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On-surface synthesis and characterization of individual polyacetylene chains


Polyacetylene (PA) comprises one-dimensional chains of sp2-hybridized carbon atoms that may take a cis or trans configuration. Owing to its simple chemical structure and exceptional electronic properties, PA is an ideal system to understand the nature of charge transport in conducting polymers. Here, we report the on-surface synthesis of both cis- and trans-PA chains and their atomic-scale characterization. The structure of individual PA chains was imaged by non-contact atomic force microscopy, which confirmed the formation of PA by resolving single chemical bond units. Angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy suggests a semiconductor-to-metal transition through doping-induced suppression of the Peierls bond alternation of trans-PA on Cu(110). Electronically decoupled trans-PAs exhibit a band gap of 2.4 eV following copper oxide intercalation. Our study provides a platform for studying individual PA chains in real and reciprocal space, which may be further extended to study the intrinsic properties of non-linear excitons in conducting polymers.

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Fig. 1: A schematic illustration of the on-surface fabrication of PA.
Fig. 2: The structural properties of cis-PA.
Fig. 3: The structural properties of trans-PA.
Fig. 4: The band structure of trans-PA on Cu(110).
Fig. 5: The electronic properties of decoupled trans-PA.

Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

The tight-binding calculations were performed using a custom-made code on the WaveMetrics IGOR Pro platform. Details of this tight-binding code can be obtained from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 785219 (Graphene Flagship Core 2), and the Office of Naval Research BRC programme. W.X. acknowledges financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 21473123, 21622307, 21790351). S.W. acknowledges financial support from Thousand Young Talent Program and National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 11874258, 11790313). C.A.P. acknowledges the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) under project ID s746.

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W.X., R.F. and P.R. conceived the experiments. Q.S., S.W. and L.C performed the STM experiments. S.W., B.Y., C.L. and X.Y. performed nc-AFM and STS measurements. R.W., S.W. and O.G. performed the ARPES experiments. Q.S., O.G. and C.A.P. performed the calculations. H.J., Q.S., X.Y. and J.Z. performed the XPS experiments. S.W., Q.S., R.F. and W.X. wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and implications and commented on the manuscript at all stages.

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Correspondence to Roman Fasel or Wei Xu.

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Wang, S., Sun, Q., Gröning, O. et al. On-surface synthesis and characterization of individual polyacetylene chains. Nat. Chem. 11, 924–930 (2019).

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