Synthesis and Self-Assembly of Thio Derivatives of Calix[4]arene on Noble Metal Surfaces

Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) provide a simple route to functionalize electrode surfaces with organic molecules. Herein we use cavity-containing derivatives of calix[4]arenes in SAMs. Bound to noble metal surface, the assembled molecules are candidates to serve as molecular sieves for H2 molecules and H+ ions, which could have relevance for fuel cell applications. Tetra-O-alkylated calix[4]arenes with thiolacetate and thiolamide wide-rim anchoring groups in cone and partial-cone conformations were designed, synthesized and self-assembled onto Au, Pt, and Pd surfaces. The resulting SAMs were systematically examined. Single crystal X-ray diffraction of 5,11,17,23-tetrakis(thioacetyl)-25,26,27,28-tetra-i-propoxycalix[4]arene confirmed the cone conformation and revealed the cavity dimensions of the SAMs that were formed by immersing noble metal substrates (Au, Pt and Pd deposited on Si-wafers) in solutions of calix[4]arenes. Surface characterization techniques including ellipsometry, cyclic voltammetry (CV) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were used, indicating that the metal surface is terminated with a monomolecular layer. Experimental thicknesses obtained from the ellipsometry are consistent with the calculated values. CV results showed 50 to 80% physical passivation against the Fe(CN)63−/4− couple, implying an overall relatively low concentration of defects and pinholes in the films. The binding energies of the S2p core level in the XPS were consistent with the literature values and revealed that up to 3.2 out of four anchoring groups were bonded to the noble metal surface.