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Chiral Surface from Achiral Ingredients: Modification of Cu(110) with Phthalic Acid

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journal contribution
posted on 13.03.2019, 00:00 by Chrysanthi Karageorgaki, Pingo Mutombo, Pavel Jelinek, Karl-Heinz Ernst
The adsorption of dicarboxylic acids is a classical model approach for understanding molecular recognition at surfaces. The interaction of achiral phthalic acid with an achiral Cu(110) surface has been investigated in ultrahigh vacuum by means of scanning tunneling microscopy, low-energy electron diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy, temperature-programmed desorption, and density functional theory. Different ordered domains at a length scale of several tens of nanometers are observed, of which three are enantiomorphous and therefore appear in two mirror-symmetric forms. Theoretical considerations suggest that spontaneous mirror-symmetry breaking occurs at the single-molecular level, in which the surface becomes also chirally distorted.

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