Probing molecular adsorption and mechanics at the atomic scale: The Nanocar family of molecules
Osgood, Andrew J.
Kelly, Kevin F.
Doctor of Philosophy
Molecular machines, typically thought to be only the fanciful imaginings of speculative fiction, have taken great strides in recent years towards real-world viability and usefulness. Under variable temperature scanning tunneling microscopy, (STM) one family of these nascent devices is characterized with atomic resolution, and probed and manipulated with sub-angstrom precision, adding to the growing body of knowledge of how molecular devices behave and react at nanometer scales. Evidence of temperature-dependent rolling of wheel-like fullerene constituents on the Nanocar is discussed in light of newly developed image analysis techniques. Additionally, charge-transfer mediated behavior at step edges, both static and dynamic, is investigated on a Au(111) surface for a more complete understanding of translation and surface diffusion. Molecular flexibility is thought to aid in this three-dimensional atomic-step-crossing diffusion, and is explored and discussed across many species in the Nanocar family of molecules. In all, many similar molecules have been characterized and explored via STM with an eye towards their dynamic capabilities and surface behaviors, in the hopes that future, more complex versions can build on the nascent knowledge base beginning to be established here.