Correlation between the molecular structure and photoresponse in aliphatic self-assembled monolayers with azobenzene tailgroups

Tobias Weidner*, Frauke Bretthauer, Nirmalya Ballav, Hubert Motschmann, Horst Orendi, Clemens Bruhn, Ulrich Siemeling, Michael Zharnikov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


We have compared the structural and photoisomerization properties of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) comprising either the trans or cis isomers of azobenzene terminated dithiolane with in-chain amide unit, viz., 4-(phenyldiazenyl)phenyl-4-(1,2-dithiolane-3-yl)-butylcarboxamide (1). These films were prepared on Au(111) from solutions of both isomers. Structure and composition of the SAMs were studied by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy. The photoresponse of the films was monitored in real time by ellipsometry. SAMs fabricated from the trans isomer were found to be densely packed and highly ordered. These films did not show any discernible photoresponse upon irradiation with UV light, which, under favorable conditions, triggers the trans-cis isomerization. In contrast, films prepared from solutions containing predominantly the cis isomer were loosely packed and mostly disordered but exhibited reversible photoreactivity. The results confirm that steric effects, i.e., available free volume, play a dominant role for the photoresponse of aliphatic SAMs bearing the photoactive azobenzene group. The crystal structure of 1 (trans isomer) exhibits a row-like aggregation of neighboring molecules by weak hydrogen bonds and can be taken as a model for the arrangement of 1 in the monolayer films. Further, in addition to the surface coordination behavior, we have also mimicked the chemisorption of the 1,2-dithiolane moiety onto the gold substrate in molecular coordination chemistry in oxidative addition reactions with the zero-valent platinum complex [Pt(PPh3)4].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11691-11700
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Correlation between the molecular structure and photoresponse in aliphatic self-assembled monolayers with azobenzene tailgroups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this