Amino Acid Immobilization of Copper Surface Diffusion on Cu(111)

Nathan P. Guisinger, Andrew J. Mannix, Rees B. Rankin, Brian Kiraly, Jesse A. Phillips, Seth B. Darling, Brandon L. Fisher, Mark Hersam, Erin V. Iski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Surface diffusion and molecular self-assembly are two critically important processes in chemistry and nature. Amino acids deposited on a Cu(111) surface driving a separation at the 2D limit between self-assembling molecules and diffusing copper atoms is reported. Since the self-assembling amino acids prefer non-planar, tridentate bonding with neighboring adatoms, they attach to and immobilize diffusing copper adatoms on the surface. This chemical interaction freezes out the copper diffusion causing the condensation of “solid” copper adatom islands on the surface. Such separation and immobilization are observed for eight different amino acids, suggesting the generality of this phenomenon beyond a single amino acid species. Furthermore, at elevated temperatures, a disruption of the prototypical Ostwald ripening of adatom islands is also observed. These results provide fundamental insight into chiral molecular self-assembly and its interplay with metal atom surface diffusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1900021
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 9 2019


  • Cu(111)
  • adatoms
  • amino acids
  • metal surface diffusion
  • metal transport
  • molecular assembly
  • self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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