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Researchers from CiQUS and TU Dresden obtain decacene, the largest acene ever synthesised

Contributed by: CiQUS

An international collaboration between synthetic chemists and surface scientists unveils a molecule formed by the linear fusion of ten benzene rings, the longest acene prepared to date.
Researchers from CiQUS and TU Dresden obtain decacene, the largest acene ever synthesised
Acenes are molecules formed by the linear fusion of special carbon-based hexagons, widely known as ‘benzene rings’. In spite of its structural simplicity, these molecules have attracted huge attention due to their unique electronic properties; pentacene, for example -a member of this family with five linear rings-, is considered as one of the most relevant organic semiconductor to build photoelectronic devices, while larger acenes present intriguing properties that have fascinated scientists for decades.

However long acenes are unstable molecules, which cannot be found in natural sources. The obvious alternative is to access these molecules by chemical synthesis, but this approach becomes more challenging as the length of the molecule increases. In fact, nonacene (nine rings linearly fused) was the largest acene detected to date in 2010.

In a new paper that soon will be published in the International Edition of Angewandte Chemie), scientists from CiQUS and the Institute for Materials Science - Chair of Prof. G. Cuniberti and Center for Advancing Electronics at Technische Universität of Dresden - TUD have been able to generate elusive decacene, a molecule formed by the linear fusion of ten benzene rings: the longest acene prepared ever. Throughout this research collaboration, led by professors Diego Peña (CiQUS) and Francesca Moresco (TUD), chemists from CiQUS prepared stable decacene precursors by solution chemistry, while physicists from TUD used these precursors to prepare decacene on a gold surface under ultrahigh vacuum, in order to stabilize this extremely reactive compound. As a result, individual decacene molecules were visualized by high-resolution Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM).

A feat of collaborative European research

The outcome of this work demonstrates that collaborations between synthetic chemists and surface scientists can lead to the achievement of long-standing chemical challenges, as evidenced by this research. The study has been developed in the framework of the EU Project PAMS, oriented to the fabrication of nanosized electronic devices (Planar Atomic and Molecular Scale devices), and scientists involved have dedicated it to the memory of Prof. Erich Clar, who is widely-considered a pioneer in the field of acene chemistry.

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