Power discontinuity and shift of the energy onset of a molecular de-bromination reaction induced by hot-electron tunneling†
Understanding the mechanism of molecular dissociation under applied bias is a fundamental requirement to progress in (electro)-catalysis as well as in (opto)-electronics. The working conditions of a molecular-based device and the stability of chemical bonds can be addressed in metal–organic junctions by injecting electrons in tunneling conditions. Here, we have correlated the energy of de-bromination of an aryl group with its density of states in a self-assembled dimeric structure of 4′-bromo-4-mercaptobiphenyl adsorbed on a Au(111) surface. We have observed that the electron-energy range where the molecule is chemically stable can be extended, shifting the bias threshold for the rupture of the –C–Br bond continuously from about 2.4 to 4.4 V by changing the electron current. Correspondingly, the power needed for the dissociation drops sharply at 3.6 V, identifying different reaction regimes and the contribution of different molecular resonance states.
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