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Reversible Redox‐Driven Crystallization in a Paracyclophane Monolayer at a Solid–Liquid Interface

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/04/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Advanced Functional Materials
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date15/04/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The development and integration of cyclophanes into future functional materials require a detailed understanding of the physicochemical principles that underlie their properties, phase behavior, and in particular the relationship between structure and function. Here, electrochemically switchable crystallization of a ferrocene‐bearing 3D Janus tecton (M‐Fc) at the interface between highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) and an electrolyte solution is demonstrated. The M‐Fc adlayer is successfully visualized under both ambient and electrochemical conditions using scanning tunneling microscopy. Voltammetric measurements show a surface‐confined redox process for the M‐Fc modified surface that drives the phase transition between a visible 2D ordered linear phase (M‐Fc0, with ferrocene in the neutral state) and an invisible gas‐like adsorption layer with high mobility when ferrocene is oxidized, M‐Fc+, and a “square scheme” mechanism explains the data. Analogous experiments in a ferrocene‐free tecton adlayer show no phase transition and confirm that the dynamics in M‐Fc are redox‐driven. On‐surface 3D nanoarchitectures are also demonstrated by forming inclusion complexes between M‐Fc and β‐cyclodextrin and device behavior through electrochemical scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS). These results showcase the functional potential of this class of cyclophanes, which can find use in actuators, optical crystals, and other smart materials.