The self-assembly of high aspect ratio hierarchical surface assemblies, as observed by fluid tapping mode AFM, can be achieved through careful design of the supramolecular interactions between low-molecular-weight adsorbates. Needlelike assemblies of monotopic guanine end-capped alkanes grow on a graphite surface when deposited from a water/DMSO solution. The growth of these assemblies can be monitored by AFM in real time, and the growth rate along the two different axes can be understood (through molecular modeling) in terms of the specific adsorbate-adsorbate interactions along those axes. Additionally, through judicious solvent selection (e.g., use of non-H-bonding solvents such as o-dichlorobenzene), which allows the formation of hydrogen-bonding aggregates in solution and influences the surface-adsorbate interactions, dramatically different surface assemblies of these guanine derivatives are obtained.
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