Surface Coupling of Octaethylporphyrin with Silicon Tetrachloride
The surface assembly of 2,3,7,8,12,13,17,18-octaethylporphyrin (OEP) using silicon tetrachloride as a coupling agent was investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM). Nanopatterned films of Si-OEP were prepared by protocols of colloidal lithography to evaluate the morphology, thickness, and molecular orientation for samples prepared on Si(111). The natural self-stacking of porphyrins can pose a challenge for molecular patterning. When making films on surfaces, porphyrins will self-associate to form co-planar configurations of random stacks of molecules. There is a tendency for the flat molecules to orient spontaneously in a side-on arrangement that is mediated by physisorption to the substrate as well as by pi-pi interactions between macrocycles to form a layered arrangement of packed molecules, analogous to a stack of coins. When silicon tetrachloride is introduced to the reaction vessel, the coupling between the surface and porphyrins is mediated through covalent Si-O bonding. For these studies, surface structures of Si-OEP were formed that are connected with a Si-O-Si motif to a silicon atom coordinated to the center of the porphyrin macrocycles. Protocols of colloidal lithography were used as a tool to prepare surface structures and films of Si-OEP to facilitate surface characterizations. Conceptually, by arranging the macrocycles of porphyrins with defined orientation, local AFM surface measurements can be enabled to help address mechanistic questions about how molecules self-assemble and bind to substrates.