Influence of CH center dot center dot center dot N Interaction in the Self-Assembly of an Oligo(isoquinolyne-ethynylyne) Molecule with Distinct Conformational States

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Molecular conformational flexibility can play an important role in supramolecular self-assembly on surfaces, affecting not least chiral molecular assemblies. To explicitly and systematically investigate the role of molecular conformational flexibility in surface self-assembly, we synthesized a three-bit conformational switch where each of three switching units on the molecules can assume one of two distinct binary positions on the surface. The molecules are designed to promote C-H center dot center dot center dot N type hydrogen bonds between the switching units. While supramolecular self-assembly based on strong hydrogen-bonding interactions has been widely explored, less is known about the role of such weaker directional interactions for surface self-assembly. The synthesized molecules consist of three nitrogen-containing isoquinoline (IQ) bits connected by ethynylene spokes and terminated by tert-butyl (tBu) groups. Using high-resolution scanning tunnelling microscopy, we investigate the self-assembly of the IQ-tBu molecules on a Au(111) surface under ultrahigh-vacuum conditions. The molecules form extended domains of brick-wall structure where the molecular backbones are packed regularly but without selection of specific molecular conformations. However, statistical analysis of the extended network demonstrates alignment/correlation for the orientations of the switching units indicating specific interactions. The primary interaction motifs in the structure are quantified from DFT calculations, showing that the brick-wall structure is indeed stabilized by two types of weak C-H center dot center dot center dot N bonds, involving either aromatic hydrogens on the IQ groups or nonaromatic hydrogens on the tBu groups. Analysis of the C-H center dot center dot center dot N interactions in the brick-wall structure explains the observed distribution and alignment of molecular conformations as well as the overall organization of the molecular surface structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10782-10791
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2017

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