Pentacene on Ni(111): room-temperature molecular packing and temperature-activated conversion to graphene†
We investigate, using scanning tunnelling microscopy, the adsorption of pentacene on Ni(111) at room temperature and the behaviour of these monolayer films with annealing up to 700 °C. We observe the conversion of pentacene into graphene, which begins from as low as 220 °C with the coalescence of pentacene molecules into large planar aggregates. Then, by annealing at 350 °C for 20 minutes, these aggregates expand into irregular domains of graphene tens of nanometers in size. On surfaces where graphene and nickel carbide coexist, pentacene shows preferential adsorption on the nickel carbide phase. The same pentacene to graphene transformation was also achieved on Cu(111), but at a higher activation temperature, producing large graphene domains that exhibit a range of moiré superlattice periodicities.