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Publication Detail
Differential stress induced by thiol adsorption on facetted nanocrystals.
Polycrystalline gold films coated with thiol-based self-assembled monolayers (SAM) form the basis of a wide range of nanomechanical sensor platforms. The detection of adsorbates with such devices relies on the transmission of mechanical forces, which is mediated by chemically derived stress at the organic-inorganic interface. Here, we show that the structure of a single 300-nm-diameter facetted gold nanocrystal, measured with coherent X-ray diffraction, changes profoundly after the adsorption of one of the simplest SAM-forming organic molecules. On self-assembly of propane thiol, the crystal's flat facets contract radially inwards relative to its spherical regions. Finite-element modelling indicates that this geometry change requires large stresses that are comparable to those observed in cantilever measurements. The large magnitude and slow kinetics of the contraction can be explained by an intermixed gold-sulphur layer that has recently been identified crystallographically. Our results illustrate the importance of crystal edges and grain boundaries in interface chemistry and have broad implications for the application of thiol-based SAMs, ranging from nanomechanical sensors to coating technologies.
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