On stabilizing spin crossover molecule [Fe(tBu2qsal)2] on suitable supports: insights from ab initio studies

3d molecular structure of an iron complex featuring iron (fe) atom in blue connected to surrounding nitrogen (n) and oxygen (o) atoms, displayed in a lattice-like configuration with stick bonds.

Au(111) is one of the substrates often used for supporting spin crossover (SCO) molecules, partly because of its inertness and partly because it is conducting. Using density functional theory based calculations of [Fe(tBu2qsal)2] SCO molecules adsorbed on the Au(111) surface, we show that while Au(111) may not be a suitable support for the molecule, it may be so for a monolayer (ML) of molecules. While, physisorption of [Fe(tBu2qsal)2] on Au(111) leads to electron transfer from the highest occupied molecular orbital to the substrate, electron transfer is minimal for a ML of [Fe(tBu2qsal)2] on Au(111), causing only negligible changes in the electronic structure and magnetic moment of the molecules. Furthermore, a small difference in energy between the ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic configurations of the molecules in the ML indicates a weak magnetic coupling between the molecules. These results suggest Au(111) as a plausible support for a ML of [Fe(tBu2qsal)2], making such a molecular assembly suitable for electronic and spin transport applications. As for [Fe(tBu2qsal)2] SCO molecules themselves, we find hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) to be a viable support for them, as there is hardly any charge transfer, while graphene displays stronger interaction with the molecule (than h-BN does) resulting in charge transfer from the molecule to graphene.

This work was published in  Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter.
[D. Le, T. Jiang, M. Gakiya-Teruya, M. Shatruk, and T. S. Rahman, “On stabilizing spin crossover molecule [Fe(tBu2qsal)2] on suitable supports: insights from ab initio studies,” Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 33, 385201 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-648x/ac0beb]