Applying AFM-based nanofabrication for measuring the thickness of nanopatterns: The role of head groups in the vertical self-assembly of ω-functionalized n-alkanethiols

Document Type


Publication Date



Molecules of n-alkanethiols with, methyl head groups typically form well-ordered monolayers during solution selfassembly for a wide range of experimental conditions. However, we have consistently observed that, for either carboxylic acid or thiol-terminated n-alkanethiols, under certain conditions nanografted patterns are generated with a thickness corresponding precisely to a double layer. To investigate the role of head groups for solution, self-assembly, designed patterns of ω-functionalized n-alkanethiols were nanografted with systematic changes in concentration. Nanografting is an in situ approach for writing patterns of thiolated molecules on gold surfaces by scanning with an AFM tip under high force, accomplished in dilute solutions of desired ink molecules. As the tip is scanned across the surface of a self-assembled monolayer under force, the matrix molecules are displaced from the surface and are immediately replaced with fresh molecules from solution to generate nanopatterns. In this report, side-by-side comparison of nanografted patterns is achieved for different matrix molecules using AFM images. The chain length and head groups (i.e., carboxyl, hydroxyl, methyl, thiol) were varied for the nanopatterns and matrix monolayers. Interactions such as head-to-head dimerization affect the vertical self-assembly of ω-functionalized n-alkanethiol molecules within nanografted patterns. At certain threshold concentrations, double layers were observed to form when nanografting with head groups of carboxylic acid and dithiols, whereas single layers were generated exclusively for nanografted patterns with methyl and hydroxyl groups, regardless of changes in concentration. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)


First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.