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Controlling the two-dimensional self-assembly of functionalized porphyrins via adenine–thymine Quartet formation

Blunt, Matthew O.; Hu, Ya; Toft, Charles W.; Slater, Anna G.; Lewis, William; Champness, Neil R.


Matthew O. Blunt

Ya Hu

Charles W. Toft

Anna G. Slater

William Lewis

Neil R. Champness


The development of supramolecular synthons capable of driving hierarchical two-dimensional (2D) self-assembly is an important step toward the growth of complex and functional molecular surfaces. In this work, the formation of nucleobase quartets consisting of adenine and thymine groups was used to control the 2D self-assembly of porphyrins. Tetra-(phenylthymine) zinc porphyrin (Zn-tetra-TP) and tetra-(phenyladenine) porphyrin (tetra-AP) were synthesized, and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) experiments were performed to visualize their self-assembly at the liquid–solid interface between an organic solvent and a graphite surface. Monocomponent solutions of both Zn-tetra-TP and tetra-AP form stable 2D structures with either thymine–thymine or adenine–adenine hydrogen bonding. Structural models based on STM data were validated using molecular mechanics (MM) simulations. In contrast, bicomponent mixtures showed the formation of a structure with p4 symmetry consisting of alternating Zn-tetra-TP and tetra-AP molecules in a chessboard type pattern. The relative positions of the porphyrin components were identified from STM images via contrast changes associated with the zinc atom present in Zn-tetra-TP. MM simulations suggest that hydrogen bonding interactions within these structures are based on the formation of adenine–thymine (ATAT) quartets with Watson–Crick base pairing between adenine and thymine groups.


Blunt, M. O., Hu, Y., Toft, C. W., Slater, A. G., Lewis, W., & Champness, N. R. (2018). Controlling the two-dimensional self-assembly of functionalized porphyrins via adenine–thymine Quartet formation. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 122(45), 26070-26079.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 22, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 22, 2018
Publication Date Nov 15, 2018
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 23, 2019
Journal Journal of Physical Chemistry C
Print ISSN 1932-7447
Electronic ISSN 1932-7455
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 122
Issue 45
Pages 26070-26079
Keywords General energy; Physical and theoretical chemistry; Electronic, optical and magnetic materials; Surfaces, Coatings and films
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This material is excerpted from a work that was published in Journal of Physical Chemistry C, copyright
© American Chemical Society after peer review. To access the final edited and published work see


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