American Chemical Society
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Alkali Doping Leads to Charge-Transfer Salt Formation in a Two-Dimensional Metal–Organic Framework

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-05-15, 18:10 authored by Phil J. Blowey, Billal Sohail, Luke A. Rochford, Timothy Lafosse, David A. Duncan, Paul T. P. Ryan, Daniel Andrew Warr, Tien-Lin Lee, Giovanni Costantini, Reinhard J. Maurer, David Phillip Woodruff
Efficient charge transfer across metal–organic interfaces is a key physical process in modern organic electronics devices, and characterization of the energy level alignment at the interface is crucial to enable a rational device design. We show that the insertion of alkali atoms can significantly change the structure and electronic properties of a metal–organic interface. Coadsorption of tetracyanoquinodimethane (TCNQ) and potassium on a Ag(111) surface leads to the formation of a two-dimensional charge transfer salt, with properties quite different from those of the two-dimensional Ag adatom TCNQ metal–organic framework formed in the absence of K doping. We establish a highly accurate structural model by combination of quantitative X-ray standing wave measurements, scanning tunnelling microscopy, and density-functional theory (DFT) calculations. Full agreement between the experimental data and the computational prediction of the structure is only achieved by inclusion of a charge-transfer-scaled dispersion correction in the DFT, which correctly accounts for the effects of strong charge transfer on the atomic polarizability of potassium. The commensurate surface layer formed by TCNQ and K is dominated by strong charge transfer and ionic bonding and is accompanied by a structural and electronic decoupling from the underlying metal substrate. The consequence is a significant change in energy level alignment and work function compared to TCNQ on Ag(111). Possible implications of charge-transfer salt formation at metal–organic interfaces for organic thin-film devices are discussed.