Extreme long-lifetime self-assembled monolayer for air-stable molecular junctions

Ningyue Chen, Shuwei Li, Peng Zhao, Ran Liu, Yu Xie, Jin-Liang Lin, Christian A. Nijhuis, Bingqian Xu, Liang Zhang*, Huaping Xu*, Yuan Li*

Sci. Adv.; 2023, 9, eadh3412.

The molecular electronic devices based on self-assembled monolayer (SAM) on metal surfaces demonstrate novel electronic functions for device minimization yet are unable to realize in practical applications, due to their instability against oxidation of the sulfur-metal bond. This paper describes an alternative to the thiolate anchoring group to form stable SAMs on gold by selenides anchoring group. Because of the formation of strong selenium-gold bonds, these stable SAMs allow us to incorporate them in molecular tunnel junctions to yield extremely stable junctions for over 200 days. A detailed structural characterization supported by spectroscopy and first-principles modeling shows that the oxidation process is much slower with the selenium-gold bond than the sulfur-gold bond, and the selenium-gold bond is strong enough to avoid bond breaking even when it is eventually oxidized. This proof of concept demonstrates that the extraordinarily stable SAMs derived from selenides are useful for long-lived molecular electronic devices and can possibly become important in many air-stable applications involving SAMs.