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Journal Article

Order from a Mess: The Growth of 5‑Armchair Graphene Nanoribbons


Schulz,  Fabian
Physical Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;
Department of Applied Physics, Aalto University;

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Berdonces-Layunta, A., Schulz, F., Aguilar-Galindo, F., Lawrence, J., Mohammed, M. S. G., Muntwiler, M., et al. (2021). Order from a Mess: The Growth of 5‑Armchair Graphene Nanoribbons. ACS Nano, 15(10), 16552-16561. doi:10.1021/acsnano.1c06226.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-F8C7-0
The advent of on-surface chemistry under vacuum has vastly increased our capabilities to synthesize carbon-nanomaterials with atomic precision. Among the types of target structures that have been synthesized by these means, graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) have probably attracted the most attention. In this context, the vast majority of GNRs have been synthesized from the same chemical reaction: Ullmann coupling followed by cyclodehydrogenation. Here, we provide a detailed study of the growth process of 5-atom-wide armchair GNRs starting from dibromoperylene. Combining scanning probe microscopy with temperature-dependent XPS measurements and theoretical calculations, we show that the GNR growth departs from the conventional reaction scenario. Instead, precursor molecules couple by means of a concerted mechanism whereby two covalent bonds are formed simultaneously, along with a concomitant dehydrogenation. Indeed, this novel reaction path is responsible for the straight GNR growth, something remarkable considering the initial mixture of reactant isomers with irregular metal-organic intermediates that we find. The provided insight will not only help understanding the reaction mechanisms of other reactants, but also serve as a guide for the design of new precursor molecules.