Collective Reactivity of Molecular Chains Self-Assembled on a Surface

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Science  12 Dec 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5908, pp. 1664-1667
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165291

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Self-assembly of molecules on surfaces is a route toward not only creating structures, but also engineering chemical reactivity afforded by the intermolecular interactions. Dimethyldisulfide (CH3SSCH3) molecules self-assemble into linear chains on single-crystal gold surfaces. Injecting low-energy electrons into individual molecules in the self-assembled structures with the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope led to a propagating chemical reaction along the molecular chain as sulfur–sulfur bonds were broken and then reformed to produce new CH3SSCH3 molecules. Theoretical and experimental evidence supports a mechanism involving electron attachment followed by dissociation of a CH3SSCH3 molecule and initiation of a chain reaction by one or both of the resulting CH3S intermediates.

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