American Chemical Society
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Reactions of Persistent Carbenes with Hydrogen-Terminated Silicon Surfaces

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posted on 2020-10-12, 17:44 authored by Aleksandr V. Zhukhovitskiy, Michael G. Mavros, K. T. Queeney, Tony Wu, Troy Van Voorhis, Jeremiah A. Johnson
Surface passivation has enabled the development of silicon-based solar cells and microelectronics. However, a number of emerging applications require a paradigm shift from passivation to functionalization, wherein surface functionality is installed proximal to the silicon surface. To address this need, we report here the use of persistent aminocarbenes to functionalize hydrogen-terminated silicon surfaces via Si–H insertion reactions. Through the use of model compounds (H–Si(TMS)3 and H–Si(OTMS)3), nanoparticles (H–SiNPs), and planar Si(111) wafers (H–Si(111)), we demonstrate that among different classes of persistent carbenes, the more electrophilic and nucleophilic ones, in particular, a cyclic (alkyl)(amino)carbene (CAAC) and an acyclic diaminocarbene (ADAC), are able to undergo insertion into Si–H bonds at the silicon surface, forming persistent C–Si linkages and simultaneously installing amine or aminal functionality in proximity to the surface. The CAAC (6) is particularly notable for its clean insertion reactivity under mild conditions that produces monolayers with 21 ± 3% coverage of Si(111) atop sites, commensurate with the expected maximum of ∼20%. Atomic force and transmission electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, X-ray photoelectron, and infrared spectroscopy, and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry provided evidence for the surface Si–H insertion process. Furthermore, computational studies shed light on the reaction energetics and indicated that CAAC 6 should be particularly effective at binding to silicon dihydride, trihydride, and coupled monohyride motifs, as well as oxidized surface sites. Our results pave the way for the further development of persistent carbenes as universal ligands for silicon and potentially other nonmetallic substrates.