Graphene grown on transition metal substrates: Versatile templates for organic molecules with new properties and structures

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The interest in graphene (a carbon monolayer) adsorbed on metal surfaces goes back to the 60’s, long before isolated graphene was produced in the laboratory. Owing to the carbon-metal interaction and the lattice mismatch between the carbon monolayer and the metal surface, graphene usually adopts a rippled structure, known as moir´e, that confers it interesting electronic properties not present in isolated graphene. These moir´e structures can be used as versatile templates where to adsorb, isolate and assemble organic-molecule structures with some desired geometric and electronic properties. In this review, we first describe the main experimental techniques and the theoretical methods currently available to produce and characterize these complex systems. Then, we review the diversity of moir´e structures that have been reported in the literature and the consequences for the electronic properties of graphene, attending to the magnitude of the lattice mismatch and the type of interaction, chemical or physical, between graphene and the metal surface. Subsequently, we address the problem of the adsorption of single organic molecules and then of several ones, from dimers to complete monolayers, describing both the different arrangements that these molecules can adopt as well as their physical and chemical properties. We pay a special attention to graphene/Ru(0001) due to its exceptional electronic properties, which have been used to induce long-range magnetic order in tetracyanoquinodimethane (TCNQ) monolayers, to catalyze the (reversible) reaction between acetonitrile and TCNQ molecules and to efficiently photogenerate large acenes.
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