Exact matrix treatment of the statistical mechanics of adsorption of large aromatic molecules on graphene
Experimental studies of adsorption from solution of the large aromatic molecules 1,2-dihydroxybenzene (catechol) and phenyl hydroquinone on graphene nanoplatelets show that at low coverage adsorption is followed by a transition which occurs from adsorbed molecules in flat to more vertically oriented states. Catechol adsorption isotherms exhibit 2 plateaus while phenyl hydroquinone shows 3 plateaus indicating 2 and 3 active conformers respectively participating in the adsorption process. Modelling such adsorption isotherms presents a challenge. Here, an exact matrix treatment of the statistical mechanics of a one-dimensional model of adsorption of catechol and dihydroquinone on graphene nanoplatelets is presented. The theoretical adsorption isotherms successfully reproduce all the features of both the catechol and dihydroquinone experimental adsorption isotherms. As suggested by the experimentalists, our theoretical model demonstrates that adsorbed phenyl hydroquinone molecules adopt a flat orientation at low concentrations and an edge orientation at higher coverage before eventually adopting a vertical configuration. Both catechol and phenyl hydroquinone can be described by our interconvertible monomer–dimer–trimer model. The theoretical adsorption isotherms obtained show several plateaus reflecting the types of conformer on the graphene surface.