Reorganization energy upon charging a single molecule on an insulator measured by atomic force microscopy

Fatayer, Shadi, Schuler, Bruno, Steurer, Wolfram, Scivetti, Ivan, Repp, Jascha, Gross, Leo, Persson, Mats ORCID: 0000-0002-1443-9490 and Meyer, Gerhard
(2018) Reorganization energy upon charging a single molecule on an insulator measured by atomic force microscopy. Nature Nanotechnology, 13 (5). pp. 376-380.

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Intermolecular single-electron transfer on electrically insulating films is a key process in molecular electronics1,2,3,4 and an important example of a redox reaction5,6. Electron-transfer rates in molecular systems depend on a few fundamental parameters, such as interadsorbate distance, temperature and, in particular, the Marcus reorganization energy7. This crucial parameter is the energy gain that results from the distortion of the equilibrium nuclear geometry in the molecule and its environment on charging8,9. The substrate, especially ionic films10, can have an important influence on the reorganization energy11,12. Reorganization energies are measured in electrochemistry13 as well as with optical14,15 and photoemission spectroscopies16,17, but not at the single-molecule limit and nor on insulating surfaces. Atomic force microscopy (AFM), with single-charge sensitivity18,19,20,21,22, atomic-scale spatial resolution20 and operable on insulating films, overcomes these challenges. Here, we investigate redox reactions of single naphthalocyanine (NPc) molecules on multilayered NaCl films. Employing the atomic force microscope as an ultralow current meter allows us to measure the differential conductance related to transitions between two charge states in both directions. Thereby, the reorganization energy of NPc on NaCl is determined as (0.8 ± 0.2) eV, and density functional theory (DFT) calculations provide the atomistic picture of the nuclear relaxations on charging. Our approach presents a route to perform tunnelling spectroscopy of single adsorbates on insulating substrates and provides insight into single-electron intermolecular transport.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Electronic properties and materials, scanning probe microscopy, surfaces, interfaces and thin films
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2018 08:18
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 06:35
DOI: 10.1038/s41565-018-0087-1
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