Theses Doctoral

Controlling Electronic Connectivity in Nanoscale Systems

Gadjieva, Natalia

This dissertation summarizes my research in the Nuckolls group on two projects, with a central theme of achieving control of electronic coupling in various nanoscale systems. The two studies of interest aim at the study of emerging properties from alkali-doping of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and the synthesis of novel metal chalcogen molecular clusters.

Chapter 1 is divided into two parts. Part one provides a brief history of the forces we associate with bond formation. We will learn that although defining a “chemical bond” is helpful, it is limited to our incomplete understanding of what forces contribute to its existence. The behavior of an electron in externally applied magnetic fields will be discussed, where the collective behavior of electrons in a material can be measured, showing a myriad of emerging properties. The known superconducting alkali-doped PAHs are introduced, followed by the unresolved problems of reproducibility and lack of structural data to accompany superconducting samples. Finally, the proximity of AFM to superconductivity is discussed, which could give us insights on further exploration of hight temperature organic superconductors. Part two introduces atomically precise clusters of atoms, also knows as superatoms. Various synthetic approaches to create metal chalcogenide superatoms are introduced. Next, a closer look into the cobalt selenide core, [Co6Se8], is presented. The ability to selectively substitute the ligands on this superatom, achieves dimensional control. The subunit can be seen as a 0-dimensional subunit, where it readily gives away its electrons. Furthermore, assembly of the clusters into 1-, 2-, and 3-dimensional structures is described.

Chapter 2 introduces a novel approach to acquire phase pure alkali-doped PAHs, p-terphenyl specifically. Previous reports of solution-processed doping of PAH have inspired highly reliable synthesis of these salts, by employing a chelating agent to stabilize the alkali metal. The first half of chapter 2 analyzes one such crystal in detail, describing emerging AFM fluctuations. The AFM coupling between nearest neighboring p-terphenyls occurs in all three crystallographic directions. Interestingly, this coupling can be seen as an unconventional bond between two terphenyl units along the hard axis, and resembles resonance structures seen in polyacetylene. The second half of the chapter further investigates the novel method, obtaining a library of alkali-doped p-terphenyls. This approach allows for selective variation of either the alkali-metal, the chelating agent, or the electronic structure of p-terphenyl. Obtaining nearly a dozen structures allows for a study of trends of doping level and accompanied magnetic properties.

Lastly, Chapter 3 proves a new mechanism for ligand substitution of cobalt selenide superatomic clusters, using an easily removable carbene as the ligand. This approach grants access to new surface ligands and core shapes to expand the properties of these superatoms. Through this approach, larger atomically precise materials can be targeted, giving rise to new types of electronic properties.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Nuckolls, Colin P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 1, 2021