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The self-assembly process of helical molecules

Thi, N. H. N.; Günther, F.; Preis, K.; Kelling, J.; Tegenkamp, C.; Gemming, S.


Helical polyalanine (PA) molecules gathered a lot of interest as the propagation of electrons along the helical backbone structure comes along with spin polarization. Via liquid and solid scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) we studied the ordering of physisorbed and chemisorbed PA molecules on HOPG and Au surfaces. While enantiopure PA molecules adsorb in a hexagonally close-packed structure, we found heterochiral dimers with a rectangular unit cell for DL-PA. Despite the steric hindrance, the packing density of the DL-PA heterophase is increased by 25% compared to the enantiopure PA structure. Apparently, this is achieved by shifting D- and L-PA along their helical axis. Moreover, the alpha-helix structure of the PA molecules seems to be preserved; thus, electrostatic forces indeed play an important role for the formation and stabilization of the helical structure. In parallel, the interactions between PA homo- and heterochiral pairs were analyzed by van-der-Waals-corrected DFT-based tight binding calculations. Denser packing geometries can be reached by heterochiral PA pairs. Second, coarse-grained classical potentials were derived from the DFTB data, and the different PA phases seen in STM were also successfully obtained from Monte-Carlo simulations.

Keywords: self-assembled monolayer; chiral organic molecules; scanning tunneling microscopy

  • Poster
    DPG-Frühjahrstagung der Sektion Kondensierte Materie, 26.-31.03.2023, Dresden, Deutschland


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