Expanded porphyrins are large-cavity macrocycles with enormous potential in coordination chemistry, anion sensing, photodynamic therapy, and optoelectronics. In the last two decades, the surface science community has assessed the physicochemical properties of tetrapyrrolic-like macrocycles. However, to date, the sublimation, self-assembly and atomistic insights of expanded porphyrins on surfaces have remained elusive. Here, we show the self-assembly on Au(111) of an expanded aza-porphyrin, namely, an “expanded hemiporphyrazine”, through a unique growth mechanism based on long-range orientational self-assembly. Furthermore, a spatially controlled “writing” protocol on such self-assembled architecture is presented based on the STM tip-induced deprotonation of the inner protons of individual macrocycles. Finally, the capability of these surface-confined macrocycles to host lanthanide elements is assessed, introducing a novel off-centered coordination motif. The presented findings represent a milestone in the fields of porphyrinoid chemistry and surface science, revealing a great potential for novel surface patterning, opening new avenues for molecular level information storage, and boosting the emerging field of surface-confined coordination chemistry involving f-block elements.
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017