Influence of molecular order on the local work function of nanographene architectures: A Kelvin-probe force microscopy study

Vincenzo Palermo, Matteo Palma, Željko Tomović, Mark D. Watson, Rainer Friedlein, Klaus Müllen, Paolo Samorì

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We report a Kelvin-probe force microscopy (KPFM) investigation on the structural and electronic properties of different submicronscale supramolecular architectures of a synthetic nanographene, including extended layers, percolated networks and broken patterm grown from solutions at surfaces. This study made it possible to determine the local work function (WF) of the different π-conjugated nanostructures adsorbed on mica with a resolution below 10 nm and 0.05 eV. It revealed that the WF strongly depends on the local molecular order at the surface, in particular on the delocalization of electrons in the π-states, on the molecular orientation at surfaces, on the molecular packing density, on the presence of defects in the film and on the different conformations of the aliphatic peripheral chains that might cover the conjugated core. These results were confirmed by comparing the KPFM-estimated local WF of layers supported on mica, where the molecules are preferentially packed edge-on on the substrate, with the ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy microscopically measured WF of layers adsorbed on graphite, where the molecules should tend to assemble face-on at the surface. It appears that local WF studies are of paramount importance for understanding the electronic properties of active organic nanostructures, being therefore fundamental for the building of high-performance organic electronic devices, including field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes and solar cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2371-2375
Number of pages5
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 11 2005


  • Conjugation
  • Kelvin-probe force microscopy
  • Organic electronics
  • Thin films
  • Work function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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