Reversible Phase Transitions in Self-Assembled Mono layers at the Liquid-Solid Interface: Temperature-Controlled Opening and Closing of Nanopores
Journal of the American Chemical Society 132(14): 5084-5090
We present a variable-temperature study of monolayer self-assembly at the liquid-solid interface. By means of in situ scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), reversible phase transitions from a nanoporous low-temperature phase to a more densely packed high-temperature phase are observed. The occurrence of the phase transition and the respective transition temperature were found to depend on the type of solvent and solute concentration. Estimates of the entropic cost and enthalpic gain upon monolayer self-assembly suggest that coadsorption of solvent molecules within the cavities of the nanoporous structure renders this polymorph thermodynamically stable at low temperatures. At elevated temperatures, however, desorption of these relatively weakly bound solvent molecules destabilizes the nanoporous polymorph, and the densely packed polymorph becomes thermodynamically favored. Interestingly, the structural phase transition provides external control over the monolayer morphology and, for the system under discussion, results in an effective opening and closing of supramolecular nanopores in a two-dimensional molecular monolayer.