Reconstruction changes drive surface diffusion and determine the flatness of oxide surfaces

G. Franceschi, M. Schmid, U. Diebold, M. Riva

Institut für Angewandte Physik, TU Wien, 1040 Wien, Austria

J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 40 (2022) 023206

Surface diffusion on metal oxides is key in many areas of materials technology, yet it has been scarcely explored at the atomic scale. This work provides phenomenological insights from scanning tunneling microscopy on the link between surface diffusion, surface atomic structure, and oxygen chemical potential based on three model oxide surfaces: Fe2O3(1 -1 0 2), La1-xSrxMnO3(110), and In2O3(111). In all instances, changing the oxygen chemical potential used for annealing stabilizes reconstructions of different compositions while promoting the flattening of the surface morphology-a sign of enhanced surface diffusion. It is argued that thermodynamics, rather than kinetics, rules surface diffusion under these conditions: the composition change of the surface reconstructions formed at differently oxidizing conditions drives mass transport across the surface.

Corresponding author: Giada Franceschi (franceschi at iap_tuwien_ac_at).

This work was featured in an AIP Scilight.

You can download a PDF file of this open-access article from Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A or from the IAP/TU Wien web server.