We report a Kelvin-probe force microscopy (KPFM) investigation on the structural and electronic properties of different submicronscale supramolecular architectures of a synthetic nanographene, including extended layers, percolated networks and broken patterm grown from solutions at surfaces. This study made it possible to determine the local work function (WF) of the different π-conjugated nanostructures adsorbed on mica with a resolution below 10 nm and 0.05 eV. It revealed that the WF strongly depends on the local molecular order at the surface, in particular on the delocalization of electrons in the π-states, on the molecular orientation at surfaces, on the molecular packing density, on the presence of defects in the film and on the different conformations of the aliphatic peripheral chains that might cover the conjugated core. These results were confirmed by comparing the KPFM-estimated local WF of layers supported on mica, where the molecules are preferentially packed edge-on on the substrate, with the ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy microscopically measured WF of layers adsorbed on graphite, where the molecules should tend to assemble face-on at the surface. It appears that local WF studies are of paramount importance for understanding the electronic properties of active organic nanostructures, being therefore fundamental for the building of high-performance organic electronic devices, including field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes and solar cells.
- Kelvin-probe force microscopy
- Organic electronics
- Thin films
- Work function