Facile room-temperature self-assembly of extended cation-free guanine-quartet network on Mo-doped Au(111) surface†
Guanine-quadruplex, consisting of several stacked guanine-quartets (GQs), has emerged as an important category of novel molecular targets with applications from nanoelectronic devices to anticancer drugs. Incorporation of metal cations into a GQ structure is utilized to form stable G-quadruplexes, while formation of a cation-free GQ network has been challenging. Here we report the room temperature (RT) molecular self-assembly of extended pristine GQ networks on an Au(111) surface. An implanted molybdenum atom within the Au(111) surface is used to nucleate and stabilize the cation-free GQ network. Additionally, decoration of the Au(111) surface with 7-armchair graphene nanoribbons (7-AGNRs) enhances the GQ domain size by suppressing the influence of the disordered phase nucleated from Au step edges. Scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy (STM/STS) and density functional theory (DFT) calculations confirm the formation of GQ networks and unravel the nucleation and growth mechanism. Our work, utilizing a hetero-atom doped substrate, provides a facile approach to enhance the stability and domain size of the GQ self-assembly, which would be applicable for other molecular structures.