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Extensive photochemical restructuring of molecule-metal surfaces under room light

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Guo, Chenyang 
Benzie, Philip 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThe 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.</jats:p>


Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge financial support from Cambridge Display Technology Ltd., the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme THOR (829067), POSEIDON (861950) and PICOFORCE (883703), and UK EPSRC EP/X037770/1 and EP/L027151/1. We thank Diamond Light Source for access to beamline I09 (proposal number SI34784-1) which contributed to the results presented here.


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Nature Communications

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
RCUK | Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (EP/X037770/1)
EC | EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020 | H2020 Priority Excellent Science | H2020 European Research Council (H2020 Excellent Science - European Research Council) (883703)
EC | EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020 | H2020 Priority Excellent Science | H2020 Future and Emerging Technologies (H2020 Excellent Science - Future and Emerging Technologies) (861950)