Coexistence of multiple conformations in cysteamine monolayers on Au(111)

Jingdong Zhang, A Bilic, JR Reimers, NS Hush, Jens Ulstrup

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The structural organization, catalytic function, and electronic properties of cysteamine monolayers on Au(111) have been addressed comprehensively by voltammetry, in situ scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) in anaerobic environment, and a priori molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and STM image simulation. Two sets of voltammetric signals are observed. One peak at -(0.65-0.70) V (SCE) is caused by reductive desorption of cysteamine. The other signal, at -(0.25-0.40) V consists of a peak doublet. The pH dependence of the latter suggests that the origin is catalytic dihydrogen evolution. The doublet feature is indicative of two distinct cysteamine configurations. Cysteamine monolayer formation from initial nucleation to a highly ordered phase has been successfully observed in real time using oxygen-free in situ STM. Random cellular patterns, disordered adlayer formation accompanied by high step edge mobility, and ultimately a highly ordered (root 3 x 4) R30 degrees lattice are observed sequentially. Pits are formed due to enclosure of the mobile edges during the adsorption process. In the highly ordered cysteamine layer, each unit has two spots with apparent 0.6 angstrom height difference in STM images. The coverage 5.7 +/- 0.1 x 10(-10) mol cm(-2) determined by voltammetry supports that the spots represent two individual cysteamine molecules. A priori MD and density functional simulations hold other clues to the image interpretation and indicate that the NH3+ groups dominate the tunneling contrast. A wide range of interface structures, showing variations in the sulfur binding site and orientation, gauche and trans conformers, and especially hydrogen-bonding interactions, are examined, from which it is concluded that the adsorbate structure is controlled by interactions with the solvent rather than with the substrate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number32
Pages (from-to)15355-15367
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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