Electrochemical Stability of Thiolate Self-Assembled Monolayers on Au, Pt, and Cu Journal Article uri icon



  • Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of thiolates have increasingly been used for modification of metal surfaces in electrochemical applications including selective catalysis (e.g., CO2 reduction, nitrogen reduction) and chemical sensing. Here, the stable electrochemical potential window of thiolate SAMs on Au, Pt, and Cu electrodes is systematically studied for a variety of thiols in aqueous electrolyte systems. For fixed tail-group functionality, the reductive stability of thiolate SAMs is found to follow the trend: Au < Pt < Cu; this can be understood by considering the combined influences of the binding strength of sulfur and competitive adsorption of hydrogen. The oxidative stability of thiolate SAMs is found to follow the order: Cu < Pt < Au, consistent with each surface’s propensity toward surface oxide formation. The stable reductive and oxidative potential limits are both found to vary linearly with pH, except for reduction above pH ~10, which is independent of potential for most thiol compositions. The electrochemical stability across different functionalized thiols is then revealed to depend on many different factors including SAM defects (accessible surface metal atom sites decrease stability), intermolecular interactions (hydrophilic groups reduce the stability), and SAM thickness (stability increases with alkanethiol carbon chain length), as well as factors such as SAM-induced surface reconstruction, and the ability to directly oxidize or reduce the non-sulfur part of the SAM molecule.

publication date

  • August 24, 2022

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • August 30, 2022 3:14 AM

Full Author List

  • Ramos N; Medlin JW; Holewinski A

author count

  • 3

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