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Extensive photochemical restructuring of molecule-metal surfaces under room light.

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Guo, Chenyang 
Benzie, Philip 


The molecule-metal interface is of paramount importance for many devices and processes, and directly involved in photocatalysis, molecular electronics, nanophotonics, and molecular (bio-)sensing. Here the photostability of this interface is shown to be sensitive even to room light levels for specific molecules and metals. Optical spectroscopy is used to track photoinduced migration of gold atoms when functionalised with different thiolated molecules that form uniform monolayers on Au. Nucleation and growth of characteristic surface metal nanostructures is observed from the light-driven adatoms. By watching the spectral shifts of optical modes from nanoparticles used to precoat these surfaces, we identify processes involved in the photo-migration mechanism and the chemical groups that facilitate it. This photosensitivity of the molecule-metal interface highlights the significance of optically induced surface reconstruction. In some catalytic contexts this can enhance activity, especially utilising atomically dispersed gold. Conversely, in electronic device applications such reconstructions introduce problematic aging effects.



34 Chemical Sciences, 3406 Physical Chemistry, 40 Engineering, 51 Physical Sciences, 4018 Nanotechnology

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Nat Commun

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Nature Portfolio
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/S022953/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015978/1)
EPSRC (EP/Y008162/1)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Research Infrastructures (RI) (861950)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) ERC (883703)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) (829067)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L027151/1)
EPSRC (EP/X037770/1)
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