Conformational adaptation and manipulation of manganese tetra(4-pyridyl)porphyrin molecules on Cu(111)
X. Chen, S. Lei, C. Lotze, C. Czekelius, B. Paulus, and K. J. Franke – 2017
Porphyrins are highly flexible molecules and well known to adapt to their local environment via conformational changes. We studied the self-assembly of manganese meso-tetra(4-pyridyl)porphyrin (Mn-TPyP) molecules on a Cu(111) surface by low temperature scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (ATM). We observe molecular chains along the ⟨11¯0⟩⟨11¯0⟩ direction of the substrate. Within these chains, we identify two molecular conformations, which differ by the orientation of the upward bending of the macrocycle. Using density functional theory, we show that this saddle shape is a consequence of the rotation and inclination of the pyridyl groups towards Cu adatoms, which stabilize the metal-organic chains. The molecular conformations obey a strict alternation, reflecting the mutual enforcement of conformational adaptation in densely packed structures. Tunneling electrons from the STM tip can induce changes in the orientation of the pyridyl endgroups. The switching behaviour varies with the different adsorption configurations.