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Integrating Ab Initio Simulations and X‑ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy: Toward A Realistic Description of Oxidized Solid/Liquid Interfaces

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journal contribution
posted on 14.12.2017, 00:00 by Tuan Anh Pham, Xueqiang Zhang, Brandon C. Wood, David Prendergast, Sylwia Ptasinska, Tadashi Ogitsu
Many energy storage and conversion devices rely on processes that take place at complex interfaces, where structural and chemical properties are often difficult to probe under operating conditions. A primary example is solar water splitting using high-performance photoelectrochemical cells, where surface chemistry, including native oxide formation, affects hydrogen generation. In this Perspective, we discuss some of the challenges associated with interrogating interface chemistry, and how they may be overcome by integrating high-level first-principles calculations of explicit interfaces with ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and direct spectroscopic simulations. We illustrate the benefit of this combined approach toward insights into native oxide chemistry at prototypical InP/water and GaP/water interfaces. This example suggests a more general roadmap for obtaining a realistic and reliable description of the chemistry of complex interfaces by combining state-of-the-art computational and experimental techniques.