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Self-assembly in real time

In a collaboration with the Samorì group (ISIS-ULP Strasbourg) we could use the high sensitivity of graphene transistor devices to disentangle molecular self-assembly processes at the liquid-solid interface. Key to the study was an alkylated spiropyran derivative, which after conversion into its merocyanine isomer formed a stable monolayer on graphene while thermal reversion to the spiropyran form let to disassembly. The kinetics of assembly and disassembly - monitored via the current of the device - provided unprecedented insight into interfacial self-assembly in real time. The work just appeared in Nature Communications.