Fluoride-free wet-chemical preparation of oxide single crystal surfaces:66th Annual Meeting of the Austrian Physical Society

Mertens, Stijn F. L. and Müllner, Matthias and Balajka, Jan and Schmid, Michael and Diebold, Ulrike (2016) Fluoride-free wet-chemical preparation of oxide single crystal surfaces:66th Annual Meeting of the Austrian Physical Society. In: 66th Annual Meeting of the Austrian Physical Society, 2016-09-272016-09-29.

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Abstract

The ultimate goal to perform surface science studies under technologically relevant conditions includes wet-chemical methods to prepare well-defined oxide surfaces [1]. The most widely practised approach is hydrofluoric acid etching, even though this chemical poses serious health risks and may inadvertently dope the surface with fluorine, an efficient electron donor [2]. Here, we present a rational yet versatile wet-chemical alternative to lengthy sputtering–annealing cycles in ultrahigh vacuum for preparing single crystal oxide samples for surface science investigations. The method does not require hydrofluoric acid, is environmentally benign and is demonstrated on rutile TiO2 (110), rutile TiO2 (011) and SrTiO3 (100), but may have much wider application potential, also for surfaces that are quickly destroyed by acids. The procedure consists of (i) ultrasonication in the presence of a dispersing agent to remove polishing debris; (ii) thermal annealing to produce equilibrium-shaped steps and terraces determined by the crystal miscut; and (iii) oxidative cleaning in an alkaline mixture to remove adsorbed organic contaminants from the surface. Each of the steps is optimised based on AFM and characterisation in ultrahigh vacuum, including by LEED and XPS. Following this wet-chemical preparation, we demonstrate atomically resolved electrochemical scanning tunnelling microscopy on TiO2 (110), on a sample that was never treated by sputtering–annealing.

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Paper)
Journal or Publication Title:
66th Annual Meeting of the Austrian Physical Society
ID Code:
133123
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Apr 2019 14:35
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
16 Oct 2020 05:31