• graphite;
  • molecular magnets;
  • scanning probe microscopy;
  • self-assembled monolayers;
  • X-ray photoemission spectroscopy


Graphite is a clean substrate and its nanostructures hold great potential for applications. Anchoring large molecules on graphite represents a challenge for several reasons that essentially rise from the planar bonds of the packed honeycomb structure of carbon. Here, a systematic investigation by AFM and XPS on different derivatives of molecular Cr7Ni rings deposited on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) is reported. Cr7Ni is emerging as a prototipical example of molecular antiferromagnet on which quantum phenomena and coherence have been demonstrated. For the deposition of Cr7Ni on HOPG, two strategies are adopted: 1) Cr7Ni rings are functionalized with extended alkyl/benzene terminations and 2) a self-assembled monolayer of alkyl chains with sulfonate terminations is deposited and then a cationic Cr7Ni derivative is used. In both cases the electronic bond with the carbon surface is soft, but the two-step procedure is efficient, albeit indirect, in sticking molecular Cr7Ni on HOPG. These strategies can be easily extended to deposit other complex molecular aggregates on graphite from the liquid phase.