A team of researchers has succeeded in performing the first quantitative characterization of van der Waals interactions at metal/organic interfaces at the single-molecule level.

The team has shown the existence of two distinct binding regimes in gold-molecule-gold single-molecule junctions, using molecules containing nitrogen atoms at their extremities that are attracted to gold surfaces. While one binding mechanism is characterized by chemical interactions between the specific nitrogen and gold atoms, the other is dominated by van der Waals interactions between the molecule and the gold surface.

“A detailed understanding of van der Waals interactions is a key step towards design of organic electronic devices,” says Sriharsha Aradhya, the study’s lead author. “Apart from the fundamental importance of these measurements, we are also excited about its applications. Understanding the effects of van der Waals interactions is tremendously important for creating and optimizing devices with organic building-blocks”.

“Many proposals for future photovoltaic and flexible electronic devices are based on organic molecules because they are cost-effective,” Venkataraman adds, “and scientists need to have a deeper understanding of these van der Waals interactions. Our work opens up the possibility of measuring and characterizing the strength of interaction between a variety of molecules and metallic surfaces a single-molecule at a time.”

This story is reprinted from material from
Brookhaven National Lab, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.