[n]Cycloparaphenylene ([n]CPP) molecules have attracted broad interests due to their unique properties resulting from the distorted and strained aromatic hoop structures. In this work, we apply sub-nanometer resolved tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) to investigate the adsorption configurations and structural deformations of CPP molecules on metal substrates with different crystallographic orientations. The TERS spectra for a CPP molecule adsorbed on the isotropic Cu(100) surface are found to be essentially the same over the whole nanohoop, indicating an alternately twisted structure that is similar to the CPP molecule in free space. However, when the CPP molecules are adsorbed on the anisotropic Ag(110) surface, the molecular shape is found to be severely deformed into two types of adsorption configurations: one showing an interesting “Möbius-like” feature and the other showing a symmetric bending structure. Their TERS spectral features are found to be site-dependent over the hoop and even show peak splitting for the out-of-plane C–H bending vibrations. The deformed structural models gain strong support from the spatial distribution of “symmetric” TERS spectra at different positions on the hoop. Further TERS imaging, with a spatial resolution down to ∼2 Å, provides a panoramic view on the local structural deformations caused by different tilting of the benzene units in real space, which offers insights into the subtle changes in the aromatic properties over the deformed hoop owing to inhomogeneous molecule−substrate interactions. The ability of TERS to probe the molecular structure and local deformation at the sub-molecular level, as demonstrated here, is important for understanding surface science as well as molecular electronics and optoelectronics at the nanoscale.
Probing the deformation of cycloparaphenylene molecular nanohoops adsorbed on metal surfaces by tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
Hang Li, Yu-Fan Zhang, Xian-Biao Zhang, Aftab Farrukh, Yang Zhang, Yao Zhang, Zhen-Chao Dong; Probing the deformation of cycloparaphenylene molecular nanohoops adsorbed on metal surfaces by tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. J. Chem. Phys. 28 December 2020; 153 (24): 244201. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0033383
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