Amplification of conformational effects via tert-butyl groups: Hexa-tert -butyl decacyclene on Cu(100) at room temperature

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The design of molecular systems as functional elements for use in next-generation electronic sensors and devices often relies on the addition of functional groups acting as spacers to modify adsorbate-substrate interactions. Although advantageous in many regards, these spacer groups have the secondary effect of amplifying internal conformational effects of the parent molecule. Here we investigate one such molecule - 2,5,8,11,14,17-hexa-tert-butyl- decacyclene (HBDC, C60H66) - deposited on Cu(100) at monolayer and submonolayer coverages using an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) scanning tunneling microscope (STM). By combining submolecular resolution imaging with computational methods, we describe a variety of properties related to the effects of adding tert-butyl spacers to a decacyclene core, including the molecular conformation, structure, and chiral separation of the molecular adlayer, strong intermolecular interactions, and a metastable pinned conformation of the molecule brought on by deformation under high-bias conditions that enable an examination of its diffusive 2D molecular gas at room temperature. Collectively, these observations provide direct insight into the effect of adding spacers to a flexible molecular core such as decacyclene as relates to both intermolecular and adsorbate-substrate interfaces. © 2013 American Chemical Society.