Click reactions (e.g., Huisgen cycloaddition) on metal oxide nanostructures offer a versatile and robust surface molecular modification for various applications because they form strong covalent bonds in a wide range of molecular substrates. This study reports a rational strategy to maximize the conversion rate of surface click reactions on single-crystalline ZnO nanowires by monitoring the reaction progress. p-Polarized multiple-angle incidence resolution spectrometry (pMAIRS) and Fourier-transformed infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy were employed to monitor the reaction progress of an azide-terminated self-assembled monolayer (SAM) on single-crystalline ZnO nanowires. Although various reaction parameters including the concentration of Cu(I) catalysts, triazolyl ligands, solvents, and target alkynes were systematically examined for the surface click reactions, 10-30% of terminal azide on the nanowire surface remained unreacted. Temperature-dependent FT-IR measurements revealed that such unreacted residual azides deteriorate the thermal stability of the nanowire molecular layer. To overcome this observed conversion limitation of click reactions on nanostructure surfaces, we considered the steric hindrance around the closely packed SAM reaction points, then experimented with dispersing the azide moiety into a methyl-terminated SAM. The mixed-SAM method significantly improved the azide conversion rate to almost 100%. This reaction method enables the construction of spatially patterned molecular surface modifications on metal oxide nanowire arrays without detrimental unreacted azide groups.
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