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Photoinduced work function changes by isomerization of a densely packed azobenzene-based SAM on Au : a joint experimental and theoretical study

Royal Society of Chemistry
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  • Chemistry
  • Physics


Responsive monolayers are key building blocks for future applications in organic and molecular electronics in particular because they hold potential for tuning the physico-chemical properties of interfaces, including their energetics. Here we study a photochromic SAM based on a conjugated azobenzene derivative and its influence on the gold work function (ΦAu) when chemisorbed on its surface. In particular we show that the ΦAu can be modulated with external stimuli by controlling the azobenzene trans/cis isomerization process. This phenomenon is characterized experimentally by four different techniques, kelvin probe, kelvin probe force microscopy, electroabsorption spectroscopy and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy. The use of different techniques implies exposing the SAM to different measurement conditions and different preparation methods, which, remarkably, do not alter the observed work function change (Φtrans–Φcis). Theoretical calculations provided a complementary insight crucial to attain a deeper knowledge on the origin of the work function photo-modulation.

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