Controlled assembly and single electron charging of monolayer protected Au144 clusters: an electrochemistry and scanning tunneling spectroscopy study†
Single gold particles may serve as room temperature single electron memory units because of their size dependent electronic level spacing. Here, we present a proof-of-concept study by electrochemically controlled scanning probe experiments performed on tailor-made Au particles of narrow dispersity. In particular, the charge transport characteristics through chemically synthesized hexane-1-thiol and 4-pyridylbenzene-1-thiol mixed monolayer protected Au144 clusters (MPCs) by differential pulse voltammetry (DPV) and electrochemical scanning tunneling spectroscopy (EC-STS) are reported. The pyridyl groups exposed by the Au-MPCs enable their immobilization on Pt(111) substrates. By varying the humidity during their deposition, samples coated by stacks of compact monolayers of Au-MPCs or decorated with individual, laterally separated Au-MPCs are obtained. DPV experiments with stacked monolayers of Au144-MPCs and EC-STS experiments with laterally separated individual Au144-MPCs are performed both in aqueous and ionic liquid electrolytes. Lower capacitance values were observed for individual clusters compared to ensemble clusters. This trend remains the same irrespective of the composition of the electrolyte surrounding the Au144-MPC. However, the resolution of the energy level spacing of the single clusters is strongly affected by the proximity of neighboring particles.