Trapping and moving metal atoms with a six-leg molecule

Abstract

Putting to work a molecule able to collect and carry adatoms in a controlled way on a surface is a solution for fabricating atomic structures atom by atom. Investigations have shown that the interaction of an organic molecule with the surface of a metal can induce surface reconstruction down to the atomic scale1,2,3,4,5. In this way, well-defined nanostructures such as chains of adatoms2, atomic trenches3,4 and metal–ligand compounds5 have been formed. Moreover, the progress in manipulation techniques6,7,8,9,10 induced by a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) has opened up the possibility of studying artificially built molecular-metal atomic scale structures11,12, and allowed the atom-by-atom doping of a single C60 molecule by picking up K atoms13. The present work goes a step further and combines STM manipulation techniques with the ability of a molecule to assemble an atomic nanostructure. We present a well-designed six-leg single hexa-t-butyl-hexaphenylbenzene (HB-HPB) molecule14, which collects and carries up to six copper adatoms on a Cu(111) surface when manipulated with a STM tip. The ‘HB-HPB-Cu atoms’ complex can be further manipulated, bringing its Cu freight to a predetermined position on the surface where the metal atoms can finally be released.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: The HB-HPB molecule.
Figure 2: Trapping, moving and releasing adatoms.
Figure 3: Shape of molecule–atom complexes.

References

  1. 1

    Gimzewski, J. K., Modesti, S. & Schlittler, R. R. Cooperative self-assembly of Au atoms and C60 on Au(110) surfaces. Phys. Rev. Lett. 72, 1036–1039 (1994).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Rosei, F. et al. Organic molecules acting as templates on metal surfaces. Science 296, 328–331 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Schunack, M. et al. Anchoring of organic molecules to a metal surface: HtBDC on Cu(110). Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 456–459 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Gross, L. et al. Lander on Cu(211)—selective adsorption and surface restructuring by a molecular wire. Chem. Phys. Lett. 371, 750–756 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Barth, J. V., Weckesser, J., Lin, N., Dmitriev, A. & Kern, K. Supramolecular architectures and nanostructures at metal surfaces. Appl. Phys. A 76, 645–652 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Eigler, D. M. & Schweizer, E. K. Positioning single atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope. Nature 344, 524–526 (1990).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Stroscio, J. A. & Eigler, D. M. Atomic and molecular manipulation with the scanning tunneling microscope. Science 254, 1319–1326 (1991).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Meyer, G. & Rieder, K.-H. Controlled manipulation of single atoms and small molecules with the scanning tunneling microscope. Surf. Sci. 377–379, 1087–1093 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Jung, T. A., Schlittler, R. R., Gimzewski, J. K., Tang, H. & Joachim, C. Controlled room-temperature positioning of individual molecules: Molecular flexure and motion. Science 271, 181–184 (1996).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Moresco, F. et al. Low temperature manipulation of big molecules in constant height mode. Appl. Phys. Lett. 78, 306–308 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Grill, L. et al. Controlling the electronic interaction between a molecular wire and its atomic scale contacting pad. Nano Lett. 5, 859–863 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Nazin, G. V., Qiu, X. H. & Ho, W. Visualization and spectroscopy of a metal-molecule-metal bridge. Science 302, 77–81 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Yamachika, R., Grobis, M., Wachowiak, A. & Crommie, M. F. Controlled doping of a single C60 molecule. Science 304, 281–284 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Sadhukhan, S. K., Viala, C. & Gourdon, A. Syntheses of hexabenzocoronene derivatives. Synthesis 10, 1521–1525 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Meyer, G. A simple low-temperature ultrahigh-vacuum STM capable of atomic manipulation. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 67, 2960–2965 (1996).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Hla, S. W., Braun, K.-F., Iancu, V. & Deshpande, A. Single-atom extraction by scanning tunneling microscope tip crash and nanoscale surface engineering. Nano Lett. 4, 1997–2001 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Sautet, P. & Joachim, C. Calculation of the benzene on rhodium STM images. Chem. Phys. Lett. 185, 23–30 (1991).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Gross, L. et al. Tailoring molecular self-organisation by chemical synthesis—hexaphenylbenzene, hexa-peri-hexabenzocoronene, and derivatives on Cu(111). Phys. Rev. B 71, 165428 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Repp, J., Meyer, G., Rieder, K.-H. & Hyldgaard, P. Site determination and thermally assisted tunneling in homogenous nucleation. Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 206102 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Repp, J., Meyer, G., Stojkovic, M. S., Gourdon, A. & Joachim, C. Molecules on insolating films: Scanning-tunneling microscopy imaging of individual molecular orbitals. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 026803 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Partial funding by the European Program RTN AMMIST and the Volkswagen Foundation Project ‘Single Molecule Synthesis’ is gratefully acknowledged.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Francesca Moresco.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information S1

Supplementary information (PDF 34 kb)

Supplementary Information S2

Supplementary figure (PDF 158 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gross, L., Rieder, KH., Moresco, F. et al. Trapping and moving metal atoms with a six-leg molecule. Nature Mater 4, 892–895 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat1529

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing