A priori calculations of the free energy of formation from solution of polymorphic self-assembled monolayers

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Journal Article
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2015, 112 (45), pp. E6101 - E6110
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First-principles free energy calculations, characterizing polymorphism of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of porphyrin molecules formed from solution onto graphite, are performed using efficient methods previously applied only to small-molecule reactivity. SAM structures are typically optimized in the absence of solvent using density functional theory embodying explicit dispersion corrections. Added then are dispersion-dominated implicit solvation energies and SAM formation entropies derived from both molecular and phonon vibration frequencies. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) images are measured, and polymorph formation free energies are approximated. Close parallels between experiment and theory support the hypothesis that the first seconds of SAM formation are under thermodynamic control, despite formed SAMs being kinetically trapped. Polymorphism is associated with large opposing changes to entropy and substrate−molecule and solvent−molecule interaction energies.
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