Monitoring the on-surface synthesis of graphene nanoribbons by mass spectrometry

Wen Zhang, Zongping Chen, Bo Yang, Xiao-Ye Wang, Reinhard Berger, Akimitsu Narita, Gabriela Borin Barin, Pascal Ruffieux, Roman Fasel, Xinliang Feng, Hans Joachim Räder, Klaus Müllen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    We present a mass spectrometric approach to monitor and characterize the intermediates of graphene nanoribbon (GNR) formation by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on top of Au(111) surfaces. Information regarding the repeating units, lengths, and termini can be obtained directly from the surface sample by a modified matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) method. The mass spectrometric results reveal ample oxidative side reactions under CVD conditions which can, however, be diminished drastically by introduction of protective H2 gas at ambient pressure. Simultaneously, addition of hydrogen extends the lengths of the oligophenylenes and thus the final GNRs. Moreover, the prematurely formed cyclodehydrogenation products during the oligomer growth can be assigned by the mass spectrometric method. The obtained mechanistic insights provide valuable information for optimizing and upscaling the bottom-up fabrication of GNRs. Given the important role of GNRs as semiconductors, the mass spectrometric characterization provides a readily available tool to improve and characterize their structural perfection.
    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)7485-7492
    Number of pages8
    JournalAnalytical Chemistry
    Issue number14
    StatePublished - Jun 28 2017

    Bibliographical note

    KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
    Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the European Research Council grant on NANOGRAPH, Graphene Flagship (No. CNECT-ICT-604391), European Union Projects UPGRADE and MoQuaS (contract N.610449), the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research BRC Program. Xiao-Ye Wang is grateful for the fellowship from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


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