Tracking the Interaction between a CO-Functionalized Probe and Two Ag-Phthalocyanine Conformers by Local Vertical Force Spectroscopy
Intentionally terminating scanning probes with a single atom or molecule belongs to a rapidly growing field in the quantum chemistry and physics at surfaces. However, the detailed understanding of the coupling between the probe and adsorbate is in its infancy. Here, an atomic force microscopy probe functionalized with a single CO molecule is approached with picometer control to two conformational isomers of Ag-phthalocyanine adsorbed on Ag(111). The isomer with the central Ag atom pointing to CO exhibits a complex evolution of the distance-dependent interaction, while the conformer with Ag bonded to the metal surface gives rise to a Lennard-Jones behavior. By virtue of spatially resolved force spectroscopy and the comparison with results obtained from microscope probes terminated with a single Ag atom, the mutual coupling of the protruding O atom of the tip and the Ag atom of the phthalocyanine molecule is identified as the cause for the unconventional variation of the force. Simulations of the entire junction within density functional theory unveil the presence of ample relaxations in the case of one conformer, which represents a rationale for the peculiar vertical-distance evolution of the interaction. The simulations highlight the role of physisorption, chemisorption, and unexpected junction distortions at the verge of bond formation in the interpretation of the distance-dependent force between two molecules.
Karl Rothe, Nicolas Néel, Marie-Laure Bocquet*, and Jörg Kröger*
J. Phys. Chem. A 2022, 10.1021/acs.jpca.2c04760
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