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Hierarchical On-Surface Synthesis of Graphene Nanoribbon Heterojunctions

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journal contribution
posted on 30.01.2018, 00:00 by Christopher Bronner, Rebecca A. Durr, Daniel J. Rizzo, Yea-Lee Lee, Tomas Marangoni, Alin Miksi Kalayjian, Henry Rodriguez, William Zhao, Steven G. Louie, Felix R. Fischer, Michael F. Crommie
Bottom-up graphene nanoribbon (GNR) heterojunctions are nanoscale strips of graphene whose electronic structure abruptly changes across a covalently bonded interface. Their rational design offers opportunities for profound technological advancements enabled by their extraordinary structural and electronic properties. Thus far, the most critical aspect of their synthesis, the control over sequence and position of heterojunctions along the length of a ribbon, has been plagued by randomness in monomer sequences emerging from step-growth copolymerization of distinct monomers. All bottom-up GNR heterojunction structures created so far have exhibited random sequences of heterojunctions and, while useful for fundamental scientific studies, are difficult to incorporate into functional nanodevices as a result. In contrast, we describe a hierarchical fabrication strategy that allows the growth of bottom-up GNRs that preferentially exhibit a single heterojunction interface rather than a random statistical sequence of junctions along the ribbon. Such heterojunctions provide a viable platform that could be directly used in functional GNR-based device applications at the molecular scale. Our hierarchical GNR fabrication strategy is based on differences in the dissociation energies of C–Br and C–I bonds that allow control over the growth sequence of the block copolymers from which GNRs are formed and consequently yields a significantly higher proportion of single-junction GNR heterostructures. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy and density functional theory calculations confirm that hierarchically grown heterojunctions between chevron GNR (cGNR) and binaphthyl-cGNR segments exhibit straddling Type I band alignment in structures that are only one atomic layer thick and 3 nm in width.