On the critical role of the substrate: the adsorption behaviour of tetrabenzoporphyrins on different metal surfaces†
The adsorption behaviour of 2H-5,10,15,20-tetraphenyltetrabenzoporphyrin (2HTPTBP) on different metal surfaces, i.e., Ag(111), Cu(111), Cu(110), and Cu(110)–(2 × 1)O was investigated by scanning tunnelling microscopy at room temperature. The adsorption of 2HTPTBP on Ag(111) leads to the formation of a well-ordered two-dimensional (2D) island structure due to the mutual stabilization through the intermolecular π–π stacking and T-type-like interactions of phenyl and benzene substituents of neighboring molecules. For 2HTPTBP on Cu(111), the formed 2D supramolecular structures exhibit a coverage-dependent behaviour, which can be understood from the interplay of molecule–substrate and molecule–molecule interactions. In contrast, on Cu(110) the 2HTPTBP molecules form dispersed one-dimensional (1D) molecular chains along the  direction of the substrate due to relatively strong attractive molecule–substrate interactions. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the reconstruction of the Cu(110) surface by oxygen atoms yields a change in dimensionality of the resulting nanostructures from 1D on Cu(110) to 2D on (2 × 1) oxygen-reconstructed Cu(110), induced by a decreased molecule–substrate interaction combined with attractive molecule–molecule interactions. This comprehensive study on these prototypical systems enables us to deepen the understanding of the particular role of the substrate concerning the adsorption behavior of organic molecules on metal surfaces and thus to tweak the ordering in functional molecular architectures.