Cyanophenyl vs. pyridine substituent: impact on the adlayer structure and formation on HOPG and Au(111)
A new cyano substituted bis(terpyridine) derivative CN-BTP was synthesized and its adsorption on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) and Au(111) was investigated. CN-BTP is closely related to the previously investigated 2,4′-BTP, where the cyanophenyl groups are replaced by pyridine moieties. The scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) investigation of CN-BTP at the liquid|HOPG interface shows a highly ordered herringbone structure that is stabilized by double weak intermolecular C–H⋯N hydrogen bonds, partially through the –CN substituents, which is different from the most stable square structure of 2,4′-BTP. The adsorption processes were investigated using cyclic voltammetry (CV) on Au(111) in a neutral phosphate buffer. A fast and full adlayer formation could be observed with CN-BTP, whereas an extremely slow process with 2,4′-BTP under the same conditions was found. Our data show that the CN substituents on BTP not only change the structure of the monolayer at the liquid|HOPG interface, but also accelerate the phase transition process in the electrolyte dramatically. This could be explained by the adlayer–substrate interactions, which is supported by DFT calculations. Our findings might be extended more generally to further pyridine comprising self-assembling molecules to fine-tune the adlayer structure and phase transition/adsorption kinetics by replacing pyridine by cyanophenyl moieties.