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Self-directed growth of molecular nanostructures on silicon


Advances in techniques for the nanoscale manipulation of matter are important for the realization of molecule-based miniature devices1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 with new or advanced functions. A particularly promising approach involves the construction of hybrid organic-molecule/silicon devices9,10,11,12,13,14. But challenges remain—both in the formation of nanostructures that will constitute the active parts of future devices, and in the construction of commensurately small connecting wires. Atom-by-atom crafting of structures with scanning tunnelling microscopes15,16,17, although essential to fundamental advances, is too slow for any practical fabrication process; self-assembly approaches may permit rapid fabrication18, but lack the ability to control growth location and shape. Furthermore, molecular diffusion on silicon is greatly inhibited19, thereby presenting a problem for self-assembly techniques. Here we report an approach for fabricating nanoscale organic structures on silicon surfaces, employing minimal intervention by the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope and a spontaneous self-directed chemical growth process. We demonstrate growth of straight molecular styrene lines—each composed of many organic molecules—and the crystalline silicon substrate determines both the orientation of the lines and the molecular spacing within these lines. This process should, in principle, allow parallel fabrication of identical complex functional structures.

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Figure 1: Proposed chain reaction mechanism for self-directed growth of molecular nanostructures on silicon.
Figure 2: Growth of styrene lines on a H-terminated Si(100) surface with a dilute concentration of single Si dangling bonds.
Figure 3: Structure of styrene lines.


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Correspondence to R. A. Wolkow.

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Lopinski, G., Wayner, D. & Wolkow, R. Self-directed growth of molecular nanostructures on silicon. Nature 406, 48–51 (2000).

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