What is it about?

Light responsive molecules are molecules that can switch their structures when exposed to light. Such molecules are often used to create functional monolayers. Functional monolayers are single layers of molecules to which light responsive molecules are anchored. Commonly, these molecules are attached to the monolayer using a “spacer.” But, as a result, their light sensitive properties are sometimes not transferred to the monolayer. In this study, the authors produced functional monolayers using a much shorter spacer. They analyzed how the nearness of the metal monolayer to the molecule affected the light response. They found that if the metal interacts weakly with the anchored molecule, the effect of light is stronger. In contrast, strongly interacting metals tend to negate the effect of light. This might be due to the angle at which the molecule is attached. This angle depends on how much the molecule is attracted to the metal substrate.

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Why is it important?

Light sensitive materials with tunable properties are useful. They can be used in many fields, such as optics, catalysis, and sensing. This study shows that monolayers with closely placed light sensitive molecules have better light response. It also shows that the choice of metal in the monolayer is important. Choosing a weakly interacting metal and a short spacer can increase the monolayer’s response to light. Knowing this can help improve monolayer design. KEY TAKEAWAY: The interactions between a monolayer and its functional molecules affects its light response. These findings reveal important design aspects for light tunable monolayers.

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This page is a summary of: The influence of surface proximity on photoswitching activity of stilbene-functionalized N-heterocyclic carbene monolayers, Chemical Communications, January 2021, Royal Society of Chemistry, DOI: 10.1039/d1cc02491d.
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