Orientation-dependent work-function modification using substituted pyrene-based acceptors

O. T. Hofmann*, H. Glowatzki, C. Bürker, G. M. Rangger, B. Bröker, J. Niederhausen, T. Hosokai, I. Salzmann, R. P. Blum, R. Rieger, A. Vollmer, P. Rajput, A. Gerlach, K. Müllen, F. Schreiber, E. Zojer, N. Koch, S. Duhm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adsorption of molecular acceptors is a viable method for tuning the work function of metal electrodes. This, in turn, enables adjusting charge injection barriers between the electrode and organic semiconductors. Here, we demonstrate the potential of pyrene-tetraone (PyT) and its derivatives dibromopyrene-tetraone (Br-PyT) and dinitropyrene-tetraone (NO2-PyT) for modifying the electronic properties of Au(111) and Ag(111) surfaces. The systems are investigated by complementary theoretical and experimental approaches, including photoelectron spectroscopy, the X-ray standing wave technique, and density functional theory simulations. For some of the investigated interfaces the trends expected for Fermi-level pinning are observed, i.e., an increase of the metal work function along with increasing molecular electron affinity and the same work function for Au and Ag with monolayer acceptor coverage. Substantial deviations are, however, found for Br-PyT/Ag(111) and NO2-PyT/Ag(111), where in the latter case an adsorption-induced work function increase of as much as 1.6 eV is observed. This behavior is explained as arising from a face-on to edge-on reorientation of molecules in the monolayer. Our calculations show that for an edge-on orientation much larger work-function changes can be expected despite the prevalence of Fermi-level pinning. This is primarily ascribed to a change of the electron affinity of the adsorbate layer that results from a change of the molecular orientation. This work provides a comprehensive understanding of how changing the molecular electron affinity as well as the adsorbate structure impacts the electronic properties of electrodes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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