A Bottom-Up Approach to Solution-Processed, Atomically Precise Graphitic Cylinders on Surfaces

Extended carbon nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs), exhibit remarkable properties but are difficult to synthesize uniformly. Herein, we present a new class of carbon nanomaterials constructed via the bottom-up self-assembly of cylindrical, atomically-precise small molecules. Guided by supramolecular design principles and circle packing theory, we have designed and synthesized a fluorinated nanohoop that, in the solid-state, self-assembles into nanotube-like arrays with channel diameters of precisely 1.63 nm. A mild solution-casting technique is then used to construct vertical “forests” of these arrays on a highly-ordered pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) surface through epitaxial growth. Furthermore, we show that a basic property of nanohoops, fluorescence, is readily transferred to the bulk phase, implying that the properties of these materials can be directly altered via precise functionalization of their nanohoop building blocks. The strategy presented is expected to have broader applications in the development of new graphitic nanomaterials with π-rich cavities reminiscent of CNTs.