Studying the properties of complex molecules on surfaces is still mostly an unexplored research area because the deposition of the metal complexes has many pitfalls. Herein, we probed the possibility to produce surface hybrids by depositing a Co(II)-based complex with chalcone ligands on chemical vapor deposition (CVD)-grown graphene by a wet-chemistry approach and by thermal sublimation under high vacuum. Samples were characterized by high-frequency electron spin resonance (HF-ESR), XPS, Raman spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and optical microscopy, supported with density functional theory (DFT) and complete active space self-consistent field (CASSCF)/N-electron valence second-order perturbation theory (NEVPT2) calculations. This compound's rationale is its structure, with several aromatic rings for weak binding and possible favorable π-π stacking onto graphene. In contrast to expectations, we observed the formation of nanodroplets on graphene for a drop-cast sample and microcrystallites localized at grain boundaries and defects after thermal sublimation.
Keywords: cobalt complexes; graphene; hybrid material; magneto-chemistry.