Metal Oxide Reactions in Complex Environments: High Electric Fields and Pressures above Ultrahigh Vacuum

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Metal oxide reactions at metal oxide surfaces or at metal-metal oxide interfaces are of exceptional significance in areas such as catalysis, micro- and nanoelectronics, chemical sensors, and catalysis. Such reactions are frequently complicated by the presence of high electric fields and/or H2O-containing environments. The focus of this research was to understand (1) the iron oxide growth mechanism on Fe(111) at 300 K and 500 K together with the effect of high electric fields on these iron oxide films, and (2) the growth of alumina films on two faces of Ni3Al single crystal and the interaction of the resulting films with ... continued below

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Qin, Feili August 2005.

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Metal oxide reactions at metal oxide surfaces or at metal-metal oxide interfaces are of exceptional significance in areas such as catalysis, micro- and nanoelectronics, chemical sensors, and catalysis. Such reactions are frequently complicated by the presence of high electric fields and/or H2O-containing environments. The focus of this research was to understand (1) the iron oxide growth mechanism on Fe(111) at 300 K and 500 K together with the effect of high electric fields on these iron oxide films, and (2) the growth of alumina films on two faces of Ni3Al single crystal and the interaction of the resulting films with water vapor under non-UHV conditions. These studies were conducted with AES, LEED, and STM. XPS was also employed in the second study. Oxidation of Fe(111) at 300 K resulted in the formation of Fe2O3 and Fe3O4. The substrate is uniformly covered with an oxide film with relatively small oxide islands, i.e. 5-15 nm in width. At 500 K, Fe3O4 is the predominant oxide phase formed, and the growth of oxide is not uniform, but occurs as large islands (100 - 300 nm in width) interspersed with patches of uncovered substrate. Under the stress of STM induced high electric fields, dielectric breakdown of the iron oxide films formed at 300 K occurs at a critical bias voltage of 3.8 ± 0.5 V at varying field strengths. No reproducible result was obtained from the high field stress studies of the iron oxide formed at 500 K. Ni3Al(110) and Ni3Al(111) were oxidized at 900 K and 300 K, respectively. Annealing at 1100 K was required to order the alumina films in both cases. The results demonstrate that the structure of the 7 Å alumina films on Ni3Al(110) is k-like, which is in good agreement with the DFT calculations. Al2O3/Ni3Al(111) (γ'-phase) and Al2O3/Ni3Al(110) (κ-phase) films undergo drastic reorganization and reconstruction, and the eventual loss of all long-range order upon exposure to H2O pressure > 10-5 Torr. Al2O3/Ni3Al(110) film is significantly more sensitive to H2O vapor than the Al2O3/Ni3Al(111) film, and this may be due to the incommensurate nature of the oxide/Ni3Al(110) interface. STM measurements indicate that this effect is pressure- rather than exposure- dependent, and that the oxide instability is initiated at the oxide surface, rather than at the oxide/metal interface. The effect is not associated with formation of a surface hydroxide, yet is specific to H2O (similar O2 exposures have no effect).

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  • August 2005

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  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:19 p.m.

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  • Dec. 5, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

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Qin, Feili. Metal Oxide Reactions in Complex Environments: High Electric Fields and Pressures above Ultrahigh Vacuum, dissertation, August 2005; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4843/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .