Staff directory César Moreno Sierra



  • Band Depopulation of Graphene Nanoribbons Induced by Chemical Gating with Amino Groups

    Li J., Brandimarte P., Vilas-Varela M., Merino-Díez N., Moreno C., Mugarza A., Mollejo J.S., Sánchez-Portal D., Garcia De Oteyza D., Corso M., Garcia-Lekue A., Peña D., Pascual J.I. ACS Nano; 14 (2): 1895 - 1901. 2020. 10.1021/acsnano.9b08162. IF: 14.588

    The electronic properties of graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) can be precisely tuned by chemical doping. Here we demonstrate that amino (NH2) functional groups attached at the edges of chiral GNRs (chGNRs) can efficiently gate the chGNRs and lead to the valence band (VB) depopulation on a metallic surface. The NH2-doped chGNRs are grown by on-surface synthesis on Au(111) using functionalized bianthracene precursors. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy resolves that the NH2 groups significantly upshift the bands of chGNRs, causing the Fermi level crossing of the VB onset of chGNRs. Through density functional theory simulations we confirm that the hole-doping behavior is due to an upward shift of the bands induced by the edge NH2 groups. © 2020 American Chemical Society.

  • Molecular Approach for Engineering Interfacial Interactions in Magnetic/Topological Insulator Heterostructures

    Cuxart M.G., Valbuena M.A., Robles R., Moreno C., Bonell F., Sauthier G., Imaz I., Xu H., Nistor C., Barla A., Gargiani P., Valvidares M., Maspoch D., Gambardella P., Valenzuela S.O., Mugarza A. ACS Nano; 14 (5): 6285 - 6294. 2020. 10.1021/acsnano.0c02498. IF: 14.588

    Controlling interfacial interactions in magnetic/topological insulator heterostructures is a major challenge for the emergence of novel spin-dependent electronic phenomena. As for any rational design of heterostructures that rely on proximity effects, one should ideally retain the overall properties of each component while tuning interactions at the interface. However, in most inorganic interfaces, interactions are too strong, consequently perturbing, and even quenching, both the magnetic moment and the topological surface states at each side of the interface. Here, we show that these properties can be preserved using ligand chemistry to tune the interaction of magnetic ions with the surface states. By depositing Co-based porphyrin and phthalocyanine monolayers on the surface of Bi2Te3 thin films, robust interfaces are formed that preserve undoped topological surface states as well as the pristine magnetic moment of the divalent Co ions. The selected ligands allow us to tune the interfacial hybridization within this weak interaction regime. These results, which are in stark contrast with the observed suppression of the surface state at the first quintuple layer of Bi2Se3 induced by the interaction with Co phthalocyanines, demonstrate the capability of planar metal-organic molecules to span interactions from the strong to the weak limit. © 2020 American Chemical Society.

  • Neutral Organic Radical Formation by Chemisorption on Metal Surfaces

    Ajayakumar M.R., Moreno C., Alcón I., Illas F., Rovira C., Veciana J., Bromley S.T., Mugarza A., Mas-Torrent M. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters; 11 (10): 3897 - 3904. 2020. 10.1021/acs.jpclett.0c00269. IF: 6.710

    Organic radical monolayers (r-MLs) bonded to metal surfaces are potential materials for the development of molecular (spin)electronics. Typically, stable radicals bearing surface anchoring groups are used to generate r-MLs. Following a recent theoretical proposal based on a model system, we report the first experimental realization of a metal surface-induced r-ML, where a rationally chosen closed-shell precursor 3,5-dichloro-4-[bis(2,4,6-trichlorophenyl)methylen]cyclohexa-2,5-dien-1-one (1) transforms into a stable neutral open-shell species (1) via chemisorption on the Ag(111) surface. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy reveals that the >C=O group of 1 reacts with the surface, forming a C-O-Ag linkage that induces an electronic rearrangement that transforms 1 to 1. We further show that surface reactivity is an important factor in this process whereby Au(111) is inert towards 1, whereas the Cu(111) surface leads to dehalogenation reactions. The radical nature of the Ag(111)-bound monolayer was further confirmed by angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and electronic structure calculations, which provide evidence of the emergence of the singly occupied molecular orbital (SOMO) of 1. © 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • Critical Role of Phenyl Substitution and Catalytic Substrate in the Surface-Assisted Polymerization of Dibromobianthracene Derivatives

    Moreno C., Panighel M., Vilas-Varela M., Sauthier G., Tenorio M., Ceballos G., Peña D., Mugarza A. Chemistry of Materials; 31 (2): 331 - 341. 2019. 10.1021/acs.chemmater.8b03094. IF: 10.159

    Understanding the nature and hierarchy of on-surface reactions is a major challenge for designing coordination and covalent nanostructures by means of multistep synthetic routes. In particular, intermediates and final products are hard to predict since the reaction paths and their activation windows depend on the choice of both the molecular precursor design and the substrate. Here, we report a systematic study of the effect of the catalytic metal surface to reveal how a single precursor can give rise to very distinct polymers that range from coordination and covalent nonplanar polymer chains of distinct chirality to atomically precise graphene nanoribbons and nanoporous graphene. Our precursor consists on adding two phenyl substituents to 10,10′-dibromo-9,9′-bianthracene, a well-studied precursor in the on-surface synthesis of graphene nanoribbons. The critical role of the monomer design in the reaction paths is inferred from the fact that the phenyl substitution leads to very distinct products in each one of the studied metallic substrates. © 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Bottom-up synthesis of multifunctional nanoporous graphene

    Moreno C., Vilas-Varela M., Kretz B., Garcia-Lekue A., Costache M.V., Paradinas M., Panighel M., Ceballos G., Valenzuela S.O., Peña D., Mugarza A. Science; 360 (6385): 199 - 203. 2018. 10.1126/science.aar2009. IF: 41.058

    Nanosize pores can turn semimetallic graphene into a semiconductor and, from being impermeable, into the most efficient molecular-sieve membrane. However, scaling the pores down to the nanometer, while fulfilling the tight structural constraints imposed by applications, represents an enormous challenge for present top-down strategies. Here we report a bottom-up method to synthesize nanoporous graphene comprising an ordered array of pores separated by ribbons, which can be tuned down to the 1-nanometer range. The size, density, morphology, and chemical composition of the pores are defined with atomic precision by the design of the molecular precursors. Our electronic characterization further reveals a highly anisotropic electronic structure, where orthogonal one-dimensional electronic bands with an energy gap of ∼1 electron volt coexist with confined pore states, making the nanoporous graphene a highly versatile semiconductor for simultaneous sieving and electrical sensing of molecular species. 2017 © The Authors

  • On-surface synthesis of superlattice arrays of ultra-long graphene nanoribbons

    Moreno C., Paradinas M., Vilas-Varela M., Panighel M., Ceballos G., Peña D., Mugarza A. Chemical Communications; 54 (68): 9402 - 9405. 2018. 10.1039/c8cc04830d. IF: 6.290

    We report the on-surface synthesis of graphene nanoribbon superlattice arrays directed by the herringbone reconstruction of the Au(111) surface. The uniaxial anisotropy of the zigzag pattern of the reconstruction defines a one dimensional grid for directing the Ullmann polymerization and inducing periodic arrays of parallel ultra-long nanoribbons (>100 nm), where the periodicity is varied with coverage at discrete values following a hierarchical templating behavior. © 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

  • Pentacene/TiO2 Anatase Hybrid Interface Study by Scanning Probe Microscopy and First Principles Calculations

    Todorović M., Stetsovych O., Moreno C., Shimizu T.K., Custance O., Pérez R. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces; 10 (40): 34718 - 34726. 2018. 10.1021/acsami.8b09203. IF: 8.097

    The understanding and control of the buried interface between functional materials in optoelectronic devices is key to improving device performance. We combined atomic resolution scanning probe microscopy with first-principles calculations to characterize the technologically relevant organic/inorganic interface structure between pentacene molecules and the TiO2 anatase (101) surface. A multipass atomic force microscopy imaging technique overcomes the technical challenge of imaging simultaneously the corrugated anatase substrate, molecular adsorbates, monolayers, and bilayers at the same level of detail. Submolecular resolution images revealed the orientation of the adsorbates with respect to the substrate and allowed direct insights into interface formation. Pentacene molecules were found to physisorb parallel to the anatase substrate in the first contact layer, passivating the surface and promoting bulk-like growth in further organic layers. While molecular electronic states were not significantly hybridized by the substrate, simulations predicted localized pathways for molecule-surface charge injection. The localized states were associated with the molecular lowest unoccupied molecular orbital inside the oxide conduction band, pointing to efficient transfer of photo-induced electron charge carriers across this interface in prospective photovoltaic devices. In uncovering the atomic arrangement and favorable electronic properties of the pentacene/anatase interface, our findings testify to the maturity and analytic power of our methodology in further studies of organic/inorganic interfaces. © 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Symmetry forbidden morphologies and domain boundaries in nanoscale graphene islands

    Parreiras S.O., Gastaldo M., Moreno C., Martins M.D., Garcia-Lekue A., Ceballos G., Paniago R., Mugarza A. 2D Materials; 4 (2, 025104) 2017. 10.1088/2053-1583/aa70fa. IF: 6.937

    The synthesis of graphene nanoislands with tailored quantum properties requires an atomic control of the morphology and crystal structure. As one reduces their size down to the nanometer scale, domain boundary and edge energetics, as well as nucleation and growth mechanisms impose different stability and kinetic landscape from that at the microscale. This offers the possibility to synthesize structures that are exclusive to the nanoscale, but also calls for fundamental growth studies in order to control them. By employing high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy we elucidate the atomic stacking configurations, domain boundaries, and edge structure of graphene nanoislands grown on Ni(1 1 1) by CVD and post-annealed at different temperatures. We find a non-conventional multistep mechanism that separates the thermal regimes for growth, edge reconstruction, and final stacking configuration, leading to nanoisland morphologies that are incompatible with their stacking symmetry. Whole islands shift their stacking configuration during cooling down, and others present continuous transitions at the edges. A statistical analysis of the domain structures obtained at different annealing temperatures reveals how polycrystalline, ill-defined structures heal into shape-selected islands of a single predominant stacking. The high crystallinity and the control on morphology and edge structure makes these graphene nanoislands ideal for their application in optoelectronics and spintronics. © 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Atomic species identification at the (101) anatase surface by simultaneous scanning tunnelling and atomic force microscopy

    Stetsovych O., Todorovi A.M., Shimizu T.K., Moreno C., Ryan J.W., León C.P., Sagisaka K., Palomares E., Matolín V., Fujita D., Perez R., Custance O. Nature Communications; 6 ( 7265) 2015. 10.1038/ncomms8265. IF: 11.470

    Anatase is a pivotal material in devices for energy-harvesting applications and catalysis. Methods for the accurate characterization of this reducible oxide at the atomic scale are critical in the exploration of outstanding properties for technological developments. Here we combine atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), supported by first-principles calculations, for the simultaneous imaging and unambiguous identification of atomic species at the (101) anatase surface. We demonstrate that dynamic AFM-STM operation allows atomic resolution imaging within the materiala € s band gap. Based on key distinguishing features extracted from calculations and experiments, we identify candidates for the most common surface defects. Our results pave the way for the understanding of surface processes, like adsorption of metal dopants and photoactive molecules, that are fundamental for the catalytic and photovoltaic applications of anatase, and demonstrate the potential of dynamic AFM-STM for the characterization of wide band gap materials. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

  • Imaging Three-Dimensional Surface Objects with Submolecular Resolution by Atomic Force Microscopy

    Moreno C., Stetsovych O., Shimizu T.K., Custance O. Nano Letters; 15 (4): 2257 - 2262. 2015. 10.1021/nl504182w.

    Submolecular imaging by atomic force microscopy (AFM) has recently been established as a stunning technique to reveal the chemical structure of unknown molecules, to characterize intramolecular charge distributions and bond ordering, as well as to study chemical transformations and intermolecular interactions. So far, most of these feats were achieved on planar molecular systems because high-resolution imaging of three-dimensional (3D) surface structures with AFM remains challenging. Here we present a method for high-resolution imaging of nonplanar molecules and 3D surface systems using AFM with silicon cantilevers as force sensors. We demonstrate this method by resolving the step-edges of the (101) anatase surface at the atomic scale by simultaneously visualizing the structure of a pentacene molecule together with the atomic positions of the substrate and by resolving the contour and probe-surface force field on a C60 molecule with intramolecular resolution. The method reported here holds substantial promise for the study of 3D surface systems such as nanotubes, clusters, nanoparticles, polymers, and biomolecules using AFM with high resolution. (Figure Presented). © 2015 American Chemical Society.