On-surface synthesis of Mn-phthalocyanines with optically active ligands†
The synthesis of novel organic prototypes combining different functionalities is key to achieve operational elements for applications in organic electronics. Here we set the stage towards individually addressable magneto-optical transducers by the on-surface synthesis of optically active manganese-phthalocyanine derivatives (MnPc) obtained directly on a metallic substrate. We created these 2D nanostructures under ultra-high vacuum conditions with atomic precision starting from a simple phthalonitrile precursor with reversible photo-induced reactivity in solution. These precursors maintain their integrity after powder sublimation and coordinate with the Mn ions into tetrameric complexes and then transform into MnPcs on Ag(111) after a cyclotetramerization reaction. Using scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy together with DFT calculations, we identify the isomeric configuration of two bi-stable structures and show that it is possible to switch them reversibly by mechanical manipulation. Moreover, the robust magnetic moment brought by the central Mn ion provides a feasible pathway towards magneto-optical transducer fabrication. This work should trigger further research confirming such magneto-optical effects in MnPcs both on surfaces and in liquid environments.