Design and Characterization of an Electrically Powered Single Molecule on Gold

Rémy Pawlak*, Tobias Meier, Nicolas Renaud, Marcin Kisiel, Antoine Hinaut, Thilo Glatzel, Delphine Sordes, Corentin Durand, We Hyo Soe, Alexis Baratoff, Christian Joachim, Catherine E. Housecroft, Edwin C. Constable, Ernst Meyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The surface diffusion of individual molecules is of paramount importance in self-assembly processes and catalytic processes. However, the fundamental understanding of molecule diffusion peculiarities considering conformations and adsorption sites remain poorly known at the atomic scale. Here, we probe the 4′-(4-tolyl)-2,2′:6′,2″-terpyridine adsorbed on the Au(111) herringbone structure combining scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Molecules are controllably translated by electrons excitations over the reconstruction, except at elbows acting as pinning centers. Experimental data supported by theoretical calculations show the formation of coordination bonds between the molecule and Au atoms of the surface. Using force spectroscopy, we quantify local variation of the surface potential and the lateral force required to move the molecule. We found an elevation of the diffusion barrier at elbows of the reconstruction of ∼100 meV compared to the rest of the surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9930-9940
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano (online)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2017


  • atomic force microscopy
  • force spectroscopy
  • molecular machine
  • scanning tunneling microscopy
  • single molecule


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