Dynamics of decanethiol self-assembled monolayers on Au(111) studied by Scanning tunnelling microscopy

Hairong Wu, Kai Sotthewes, Avijit Kumar, Gyula J. Vancso, Peter Manfred Schön, Henricus J.W. Zandvliet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We investigated the dynamics of decanethiol self-assembled monolayers on Au(111) surfaces using time-resolved scanning tunneling microscopy at room temperature. The expected ordered phases (β, δ, χ*, and ) and a disordered phase (ε) were observed. Current–time traces with the feedback loop disabled were recorded at different locations on the surface. The sulfur end group of the decanethiolate molecule exhibits a stochastic two-level switching process when the molecule is adsorbed in a (local) β phase registry. This two-level process is attributed to the diffusion of the Au–thiolate complex between two adjacent adsorption sites. The irregular current jumps in the current–time traces recorded on the tails of decanethiolate molecules in the ordered β, δ, and χ* phases are ascribed to wagging of the alkyl tails. Finally, the disordered phase is characterized by even larger current jumps, which indicates that the tail of the decanethiolate flips up occasionally and makes contact with the tip. Our experiments reveal that the massive dynamics of the self-assembled monolayer is due to diffusion of decanethiol–Au complexes, rather than the diffusion of decanethiolate molecules
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2250-2257
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • IR-89928
  • METIS-296591


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