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Directed Rotations of Single Porphyrin Molecules Controlled by Localized Force Spectroscopy

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Department of Physics, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 82, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zürich, Honggerberg, HCI, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland
*Address correspondence to [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Nano 2012, 6, 7, 6318–6324
Publication Date (Web):June 3, 2012
Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society

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    Directed molecular repositioning is a key step toward the build up of molecular machines. To artificially generate and control the motion of molecules on a surface, excitations by light, chemical, or electrical energy have been demonstrated. Here, the application of local mechanical forces is implemented to achieve directed rotations of molecules. Three-dimensional force spectroscopy with sub-Ångström precision is used to characterize porphyrin derivatives with peripheral carbonitrile groups. Extremely small areas on these molecules (≈100 × 100 pm2) are revealed which can be used to control rotations. In response to the local mechanical forces, the molecular structure elastically deforms and then changes its conformation, which leads to its rotation. Depending on the selection of one of four submolecular areas, the molecule is either rotated clockwise or counterclockwise.

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