Kekulene: On-Surface Synthesis, Orbital Structure, and Aromatic Stabilization

07 August 2020, Version 1


We revisit the question of kekulene’s aromaticity by focusing on the electronic structure of its frontier orbitals as determined by angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. To this end, we have developed a specially designed precursor, 1,4,7(2,7)-triphenanthrenacyclononaphane-2,5,8-triene, which allows us to prepare sufficient quantities of kekulene of high purity directly on a Cu(111) surface, as confirmed by scanning tunneling microscopy. Supported by density functional calculations, we determine the orbital structure of kekulene’s highest occupied molecular orbital by photoelectron tomography. In agreement with a recent aromaticity assessment of kekulene based solely on C–C bond lengths, we conclude that the π-conjugation of kekulene is better described by the Clar model rather than a superaromatic model. Thus, by exploiting the capabilities of photoemission tomography, we shed light on the question which consequences aromaticity holds for the frontier electronic structure of a π-conjugated molecule.


On-Surface Synthesis
photoemission tomography


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