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1.  Graphite, graphene on SiC, and graphene nanoribbons: Calculated images with a numerical FM-AFM 
Background: Characterization at the atomic scale is becoming an achievable task for FM-AFM users equipped, for example, with a qPlus sensor. Nevertheless, calculations are necessary to fully interpret experimental images in some specific cases. In this context, we developed a numerical AFM (n-AFM) able to be used in different modes and under different usage conditions.
Results: Here, we tackled FM-AFM image calculations of three types of graphitic structures, namely a graphite surface, a graphene sheet on a silicon carbide substrate with a Si-terminated surface, and finally, a graphene nanoribbon. We compared static structures, meaning that all the tip and sample atoms are kept frozen in their equilibrium position, with dynamic systems, obtained with a molecular dynamics module allowing all the atoms to move freely during the probe oscillations.
Conclusion: We found a very good agreement with experimental graphite and graphene images. The imaging process for the deposited nanoribbon demonstrates the stability of our n-AFM to image a non-perfectly planar substrate exhibiting a geometrical step as well as a material step.
PMCID: PMC3323920  PMID: 22497004
calculations; FM-AFM; graphene; graphite; image; nanoribbon
2.  An NC-AFM and KPFM study of the adsorption of a triphenylene derivative on KBr(001) 
The adsorption on KBr(001) of a specially designed molecule, consisting of a flat aromatic triphenylene core equipped with six flexible propyl chains ending with polar cyano groups, is investigated by using atomic force microscopy in the noncontact mode (NC-AFM) coupled to Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) in ultrahigh vacuum at room temperature. Two types of monolayers are identified, one in which the molecules lie flat on the surface (MLh) and another in which they stand approximately upright (MLv). The Kelvin voltage on these two structures is negatively shifted relative to that of the clean KBr surface, revealing the presence of surface dipoles with a component pointing along the normal to the surface. These findings are interpreted with the help of numerical simulations. It is shown that the surface–molecule interaction is dominated by the electrostatic interaction of the cyano groups with the K+ ions of the substrate. The molecule is strongly adsorbed in the MLh structure with an adsorption energy of 1.8 eV. In the MLv layer, the molecules form π-stacked rows aligned along the polar directions of the KBr surface. In these rows, the molecules are less strongly bound to the substrate, but the structure is stabilized by the strong intermolecular interaction due to π-stacking.
PMCID: PMC3323911  PMID: 22496995
atomic force microscopy; insulating surfaces; Kelvin force probe microscopy; molecular adsorption

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