Indexed on: 22 Jul '18Published on: 22 Jul '18Published in: Nature communications
Nitrogen doping of graphene significantly affects its chemical properties, which is particularly important in molecular sensing and electrocatalysis applications. However, detailed insight into interaction between N-dopant and molecules at the atomic scale is currently lacking. Here we demonstrate control over the spin state of a single iron(II) phthalocyanine molecule by its positioning on N-doped graphene. The spin transition was driven by weak intermixing between orbitals with z-component of N-dopant (p of N-dopant) and molecule (d, d, d) with subsequent reordering of the Fe d-orbitals. The transition was accompanied by an electron density redistribution within the molecule, sensed by atomic force microscopy with CO-functionalized tip. This demonstrates the unique capability of the high-resolution imaging technique to discriminate between different spin states of single molecules. Moreover, we present a method for triggering spin state transitions and tuning the electronic properties of molecules through weak non-covalent interaction with suitably functionalized graphene.