Theoretical study of PTCDA adsorbed on the coinage metal surfaces, Ag(111), Au(111), and Cu(111)

Lorenz Romaner, Dimitri Nabok, Peter Puschnig, Egbert Zojer, Claudia Ambrosch-Draxl

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A thorough understanding of the adsorption of molecules on metallic surfaces is a crucial prerequisite for the development and improvement of functionalized materials. A prominent representative within the class of π-conjugated molecules is 3,4,9,10-perylene-tetracarboxylic acid dianhydride (PTCDA) which, adsorbed on the Ag(111), Au(111) or Cu(111) surfaces, shows characteristic trends for work-function modification, alignment of molecular levels with the substrate Fermi energy and binding distances. We carried out density functional theory (DFT) calculations to investigate to what extent these trends can be rationalized on a theoretical basis. We used different density functionals (DF) including a fully non-local van der Waals (vdW) DF capable of describing dispersion interactions. We show that, rather independent of the DF, the calculations yield level alignments and work-function modifications consistent with ultra-violet photoelectron spectroscopy when the monolayer is placed onto the surfaces at the experimental distances (as determined from x-ray standing wave experiments). The lowest unoccupied molecular orbital is occupied on the Ag and Cu surfaces, whereas it remains unoccupied on the Au surface. Simultaneously, the work function increases for Ag but decreases for Cu and Au. Adsorption distances and energies, on the other hand, depend very sensitively on the choice of the DF. While calculations in the local density approximation bind the monolayer consistently with the experimental trends, the generalized gradient approximation in several flavors fails to reproduce realistic distances and energies. Calculations employing the vdW-DF reveal that substantial bonding contributions arise from dispersive interactions. They yield reasonable binding energies but larger binding distances than the experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number053010
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)
  • Theoretical

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