Metal-Organic Interfaces (MOIN)

Metal-Organic Interfaces (MOIN)

Emmy Noether Group

Inspired by supramolecular and polymer chemistry in solution, the surface science community has developed in the last decades a variety of strategies to form organic assemblies and two-dimensional covalent layers on well-defined flat solid surfaces. This approach is today known under the name of on-surface synthesis.  The preparation and characterization methods employed by this approach are however radically different to those of conventional chemistry since they are carried out under vacuum conditions.  As a result, well-defined organic layers can be prepared and characterized at the single-molecule level.

This way of preparing organic layers is of great interest to the organic electronics and optoelectronics communities. However, its potential in the field of electrochemistry has been scarcely exploited.

In the Metal-Organic Interfaces (MOIN) group, we use the on-surface synthesis approach to create novel organic assemblies for the functionalization of metal electrodes, typically single crystals, and the development of well-defined heterogeneous molecular catalysts. Making use of different techniques under ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions, we can determine the chemical and electronic structure of the molecular building blocks (e.g., x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, XPS), the molecular arrangement with single-molecule resolution (e.g., scanning tunneling microscopy, STM) and the adsorption configuration (e.g., high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy, HREELS).

Our goal is to develop well-defined tailor-made metal-organic interfaces to study their behavior under different electrochemical conditions and make them suitable for chemical energy conversion applications. The available equipment allows the transfer of the samples from the UHV system to the electrochemical workstation without exposing the surface to air, preserving the properties of the metal-organic interface. In the electrochemical workstation, different electrocatalytic properties such as activity, selectivity and stability are studied.

We also take advantage of the strong expertise of the Interface Science Department in operando techniques, establishing exciting collaborations that allow the study of different properties of the metal-organic interface during reaction conditions.

Group Members

Name Email
Mikhail Belozertsev
Dr. Juan J. Navarro


We are happy to receive the CV of highly motivated people willing to do their PhD or Postdoc in our group.


A new Emmy Noether Group for Dr. Juan J. Navarro

Recent Publications



Nguyen, K.-L.C., J.P. Bruce, A. Yoon, J.J. Navarro, F. Scholten, F. Landwehr, C. Rettenmaier, M. Heyde and B. Roldan Cuenya: The Influence of Mesoscopic Surface Structure on the Electrocatalytic Selectivity of CO2 Reduction with UHV-Prepared Cu(111) Single Crystals. ACS Energy Letters 9 (2), 644–652 (2024).
Navarro, J.J., M. Das, S. Tosoni, F. Landwehr, M. Heyde, G. Pacchioni, F. Glorius and B. Roldan Cuenya: Promoted Thermal Reduction of Copper Oxide Surfaces by N-Heterocyclic Carbenes. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 126 (41), 17528–17535 (2022).
Navarro, J.J., M. Das, S. Tosoni, F. Landwehr, J.P. Bruce, M. Heyde, G. Pacchioni, F. Glorius and B. Roldan Cuenya: Covalent Adsorption of N-Heterocyclic Carbenes on a Copper Oxide Surface. Journal of the American Chemical Society 144 (36), 16267–16271 (2022).
Navarro, J.J., M. Das , S. Tosoni, F. Landwehr, M. Koy, M. Heyde, G. Pacchioni, F. Glorius and B. Roldan Cuenya: Growth of N-Heterocyclic Carbene Assemblies on Cu(100) and Cu(111): from Single Molecules to Magic-Number Islands. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 61 (30), e202202127 (2022).
Bruce, J.P., K.-L.C. Nguyen, F. Scholten, R. Aran Ais, J.J. Navarro, J. Hartmann, M. Heyde and B. Roldan Cuenya: Development of a single crystal sample holder for interfacing ultrahigh vacuum and electrochemical experimentation. Review of Scientific Instruments 92 (7), 074104 (2021).
Pielsticker, L., I. Zegkinoglou, Z.-K. Han, J.J. Navarro, S. Kunze, O. Karslıoğlu, S.V. Levchenko and B. Roldan Cuenya: Crystallographic Orientation Dependence of Surface Segregation and Alloying on PdCu Catalysts for CO2 Hydrogenation. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 12 (10), 2570–2575 (2021).
Navarro, J.J., S. Tosoni, J.P. Bruce, L. Chaves, M. Heyde, G. Pacchioni and B. Roldan Cuenya: The Structure of a Silica Thin Film on Oxidized Cu(111): Conservation of Honeycomb Lattice and Role of the Interlayer. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 124 (38), 20942–20949 (2020).
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