Using a q+ atomic force microscopy at low temperature, a sexiphenyl molecule is slid across an atomically flat Ag(111) surface along the direction parallel to its molecular axis and sideways to the axis. Despite identical contact area and underlying surface geometry, the lateral force required to move the molecule in the direction parallel to its molecular axis is found to be about half of that required to move it sideways. The origin of the lateral force anisotropy observed here is traced to the one-dimensional shape of the molecule, which is further confirmed by molecular dynamics simulations. We also demonstrate that scanning tunneling microscopy can be used to determine the comparative lateral force qualitatively. The observed one-dimensional lateral force anisotropy may have important implications in atomic scale frictional phenomena on materials surfaces.
Original Publication Citation
Zhang, Y., Trainer, D. J., Narayanan, B., ... Curtiss, L. A., Sankaranarayanan, S., & Hla, S. W. (2021). One-dimensional lateral force anisotropy at the atomic scale in sliding single molecules on a surface. Nano Letters, 21(15), 6391-6397. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.0c04974
Zhang, Yuan; Trainer, Daniel J.; Narayanan, Badri; Li, Yang; Ngo, Anh T.; Khadka, Sushila; Neogi, Arnab; Fisher, Brandon; Curtiss, Larry A.; Sankaranarayanan, Subramanian K.R.S.; and Hla, Saw Wai, "One-Dimensional Lateral Force Anisotropy at the Atomic Scale in Sliding Single Molecules on a Surface" (2021). Physics Faculty Publications. 534.