L. Grossmann, B. T. King, S. Reichlmaier, N. Hartmann, J. Rosen, W. M. Heckl, J. Björk and M. Lackinger
Nature Chemistry, 13, 730 (2021)
The use of solid supports and ultra-high vacuum conditions for the synthesis of two-dimensional polymers is attractive, as it can enable thorough characterization, often with submolecular resolution, and prevent contamination. However, most on-surface polymerizations are thermally activated, which often leads to high defect densities and relatively small domain sizes. Here, we have obtained a porous two-dimensional polymer that is ordered on the mesoscale by the two-staged topochemical photopolymerization of fluorinated anthracene triptycene (fantrip) monomers on alkane-passivated graphite surfaces under ultra-high vacuum. First, the fantrip monomers self-assemble into highly ordered monolayer structures, where all anthracene moieties adopt a suitable arrangement for photopolymerization. Irradiation with violet light then induces complete covalent crosslinking by [4+4] photocycloaddition to form a two-dimensional polymer, while fully preserving the long-range order of the self-assembled structure. The extent of the polymerization is confirmed by local infrared spectroscopy and scanning tunnelling microscopy characterization, in agreement with density functional theory calculations, which also gives mechanistic insights.