Ultrafast shock compression of self-assembled monolayers: A molecular picture

James E. Patterson, Dana D. Dlott

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Simulations of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) are performed to interpret experimental measurements of ultrafast ∼1 GPa (volume compression ΔV ∼ 0.1) planar shock compression dynamics probed by vibrational sum-frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy (Lagutchev, A. S.; Patterson, J. E.; Huang, W.; Dlott, D. D. J. Phys. Chem. B 2005, 109, XXXX). The SAMs investigated are octadecanethiol (ODT) and pentadecanethiol (PDT) on Au(111) and Ag(111) substrates, and benzyl mercaptan (BMT) on Au(111). In the alkane SAMs, SFG is sensitive to the instantaneous orientation of the terminal methyl; in BMT it is sensitive to the phenyl orientation. Computed structures of alkane SAMs are in good agreement with experiment. In alkanes, the energies of gauche defects increase with increasing number and depth below the methyl plane, with the exception of ODT/Au where both single and double gauche defects at the two uppermost dihedrals have similar energies. Simulations of isothermal uniaxial compression of SAM lattices show that chain and methyl tilting is predominant in PDT/Au, ODT/Ag and PDT/Ag, whereas single and double gauche defect formation is predominant in ODT/Au. Time-resolved shock data showing transient SFG signal loss of ODT/Au and PDT/Au are fit by calculations of the terminal group orientations as a function of Δ V and their contributions to the SFG hyperpolarizability. The highly elastic response of PDT/Au results from shock-generated methyl and chain tilting. The viscoelastic response of ODT/Au results from shock generation of single and double gauche defects. Isothermal compression simulations help explain and fit the time dependence of shock spectra but generally underestimate the magnitude of SFG signal loss because they do not include effects of high-strain-rate dynamics and shock front and surface irregularities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5045-5054
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 24 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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