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Real-Time Observation of Reconstruction Dynamics on TiO2(001) Surface under Oxygen via an Environmental Transmission Electron Microscope

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posted on 13.01.2016, 00:00 by Wentao Yuan, Yong Wang, Hengbo Li, Hanglong Wu, Ze Zhang, Annabella Selloni, Chenghua Sun
The surface atomic structure has a remarkable impact on the physical and chemical properties of metal oxides and has been studied extensively by scanning tunneling microscopy. However, acquiring real-time information on the formation and evolution of the surface structure remains a great challenge. Here we use environmental transmission electron microscopy to directly observe the stress-induced reconstruction dynamics on the (001) surface of anatase TiO2. Our in situ results unravel for the first time how the (1 × 4) reconstruction forms and how the metastable (1 × 3) and (1 × 5) patterns transform into the (1 × 4) surface stable structure. With the support of first-principles calculations, we find that the surface evolution is driven by both low coordinated atoms and surface stress. This work provides a complete picture of the structural evolution of TiO2(001) under oxygen atmosphere and paves the way for future studies of the reconstruction dynamics of other solid surfaces.