Image Distortions of a Partially Fluorinated Hydrocarbon Molecule in Atomic Force Microscopy with Carbon Monoxide Terminated Tips

The underlying mechanisms of image distortions in atomic force microscopy (AFM) with CO-terminated tips are identified and studied in detail. AFM measurements of a partially fluorinated hydrocarbon molecule recorded with a CO-terminated tip are compared with state-of-the-art ab initio calculations. The hydrogenated and fluorinated carbon rings in the molecule appear different in size, which primarily originates from the different extents of their pi-electrons. Further, tilting of the CO at the tip, induced by van der Waals forces, enlarges the apparent size of parts of the molecule by up to 50%. Moreover, the CO tilting in response to local Pauli repulsion causes a significant sharpening of the molecule bonds in AFM imaging.

By: Nikolaj Moll, Bruno Schuler, Shigeki Kawai, Feng Xu, Lifen Peng, Akihiro Orita, Junzo Otera, Alessandro Curioni, Mathias Neu, Jascha Repp, Gerhard Meyer, Leo Gross

Published in: Nano Letters, volume 14, (no 11), pages 6127–6131 in 2014


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