The structure of deuterated benzene films adsorbed on the graphite (0001) basal plane: what happens below and above the monolayer coverage?
An exact description of the interactions in aromatic carbon systems is a key condition for the design of carbon based nanomaterials. In this paper we investigate the binding and adsorbate structure of the simplest prototype system in this class – the single aromatic ring molecule benzene on graphite. We have collected neutron diffraction data of the ordered phase of deuterated benzene, C6D6, adsorbed on the graphite (0001) basal plane surface. We examined relative coverages from 0.15 up to 1.3 monolayers (ML) in a temperature range of 80 to 250 K. The results confirm the flat lying commensurate monolayer with lattice constants a = b = 6.5 Å at coverages of less than 1 ML. For this structure we observe a progressive melting well below the desorption temperature. At higher coverages we do neither observe an ordered second layer nor a densification of the structure by upright tilting of first layer molecules, as generally assumed up to now. Instead, we see the formation of clusters with a bulk crystalline structure for coverages only weakly exceeding 1 ML.