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Formation and Evolution of Ultrathin Silica Polymorphs on Ru(0001) Studied with Combined in Situ, Real-Time Methods

Klemm, Hagen W., Prieto, Mauricio J., Peschel, Gina, Fuhrich, Alexander, Madej, Ewa, Xiong, Feng, Menzel, Dietrich, Schmidt, Thomas, Freund, Hans-Joachim
Journal of physical chemistry 2018 v.123 no.13 pp. 8228-8243
image analysis, oxygen, physical chemistry, silica, silicon
Silica mono- and bilayer films on Ru(0001) can be physisorbed or chemisorbed, with ordered or vitreous structures, depending on the particular preparation procedures applied. Using the SMART spectro-microscope at BESSY-II with its capabilities for μ-spectroscopy, μ-diffraction, and LEEM imaging with lateral resolution below 5 nm, in situ and in real time and applied to identical areas, we have investigated the formation of these layers, defined and characterized their properties and their connected morphology, and followed their evolution. Two distinct chemisorbed monolayers and three bilayers (physisorbed crystalline and vitreous, and chemisorbed zigzag phases), and some transitions between them, have been studied. We found that, apart from the deposited silicon amount, the most important parameter for steering the evolution to a particular well-defined layer is the oxygen content at the Ru interface. Nucleation and growth of all layers are homogeneous on the scale of our resolution, leading to rather small domains (20–40 nm), mostly of the same phase, separated by defect lines. We discuss these and other basic findings in context and point out open questions. We also offer alternative recipes for the preparation of some phases, to obtain more homogeneous layers on a mesoscopic scale.