Autocatalytic Oxidation of Lead Crystallite Surfaces

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Science  20 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5589, pp. 2033-2035
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5589.2033

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Growth of an ultrathin lead oxide layer causes massive changes in the shape of lead crystallites. The dynamics of this process was investigated with time-lapsed scanning tunneling microscopy. Pure lead crystallites proved extremely resistant to oxidation. Once nucleated by surface impurities, monolayer films of lead oxide grew readily on lead (111) microfacets in an autocatalytic process. The anisotropic growth of orthorhombic lead oxide films (massicot structure) was most rapid along the direction of weakest lead-oxygen bonding, which suggests that the growth edge autocatalyzes oxygen dissociation by providing proximal sites for oxygen dissociation and attachment.

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