Direct Imaging of Reconstructed Atoms on TiO2 (110) Surfaces

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Science  24 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5901, pp. 570-573
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165044

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Determining the atomic structures of oxide surfaces is critical for understanding their physical and chemical properties but also challenging because the breaking of atomic bonds in the formation of the surface termination can involve complex reconstructions. We used advanced transmission electron microscopy to directly observe the atomic structure of reduced titania (TiO2) (110) surfaces from directions parallel to the surface. In our direct atomic-resolution images, reconstructed titanium atoms at the top surface layer are clearly imaged and are found to occupy the interstitial sites of the TiO2 structure. Combining observations from two orthogonal directions, the three-dimensional positioning of the Ti interstitials is identified at atomic dimensions and allows a resolution of two previous models that differ in their oxygen stoichiometries.

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