Structures and properties of self-assembled monolayers of bistable [2]rotaxanes on Au (111) surfaces from molecular dynamics simulations validated with experiment

Soon Jang Seung, Hee Jang Yun, Yong Hoon Kim, William A. Goddard*, Amar H. Flood, Bo W. Laursen, Hsian Rong Tseng, J. Fraser Stoddart, Jan O. Jeppesen, Wook Choi Jang, David W. Steuerman, Erica Delonno, James R. Heath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Bistable [2]rotaxanes display controllable switching properties in solution, on surfaces, and in devices. These phenomena are based on the electrochemically and electrically driven mechanical shuttling motion of the ring-shaped component, cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) (CBPQT4+) (denoted as the ring), between a tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) unit and a 1,5-dioxynaphthalene (DNP) ring system located along a dumbbell component. When the ring is encircling the TTF unit, this co-conformation of the rotaxane is the most stable and thus designated the ground-state co-conformer (GSCC), whereas the other co-conformation with the ring surrounding the DNP ring system is less favored and so designated the metastable-state co-conformer (MSCC). We report here the structure and properties of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of a bistable [2]rotaxane on Au (111) surfaces as a function of surface coverage based on atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) studies with a force field optimized from DFT calculations and we report several experiments that validate the predictions. On the basis of both the total energy per rotaxane and the calculated stress that is parallel to the surface, we find that the optimal packing density of the SAM corresponds to a surface coverage of 115 Å2/molecule (one molecule per 4 x 4 grid of surface Au atoms) for both the GSCC and MSCC, and that the former is more stable than the latter by 14 kcal/mol at the optimum packing density. We find that the SAM retains hexagonal packing, except for the case at twice the optimum packing density (65 Å2/molecule, the 3 x 3 grid). For the GSCC and MSCC, investigated at the optimum coverage, the tilt of the ring with respect to the normal is θ = 39° and 61°, respectively, while the tilt angle of the entire rotaxane is ψ = 41° and 46°, respectively. Although the tilt angle of the ring decreases with decreasing surface coverage, the tilt angle of the rotaxane has a maximum at 144 Å2/molecule (the 4 x 5 grid/molecule) of 50° and 51° for the GSCC and MSCC, respectively. The hexafluorophosphate counterions (PF6-) stay localized around the ring during the 2 ns MD simulation. On the basis of the calculated density profile, we find that the thickness of the SAM is 40.5 Å at the optimum coverage for the GSCC and 40.0 Å for MSCC, and that the thicknesses become less with decreasing surface coverage. The calculated surface tension at the optimal packing density is 45 and 65 dyn/cm for the GSCC and MSCC, respectively. This difference suggests that the water contact angle for the GSCC is larger than for the MSCC, a prediction that is verified by experiments on Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers of amphiphilic [2]rotaxanes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1575
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 9 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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