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Two-Dimensional Iron Oxide on Au(111): Growth Mechanism and Interfacial Properties
The Journal of Physical Chemistry C  (IF4.177),  Pub Date : 2021-10-27, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.1c08238
Yixuan Jiang, Saiyu Bu, Dechun Zhou, Xiaoguang Shi, Feng Pan, Qingmin Ji, Tianchao Niu

The strong oxide–metal interaction makes inverse oxide–metal configurations more active than conventional bulk systems. An atomic-scale understanding of the growth mechanism and structural properties of these metal oxides on noble metal substrates is essential for the design and improvement of inverse catalysts. Here, using two-dimensional iron oxide (FeO) thin films on the Au(111) surface as a model system, we investigated the growth mechanism of the first and second layer FeO on Au(111) by high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy. Fe atoms embed in the subsurface of Au(111) at low coverage and squeeze out the surrounding Au atoms. Assisted by oxidation to generate FeO, the islands move to the surface and finally cover the Au(111) surface to form a Moiré superstructure. Density functional theory calculations reveal the formation of the strong interfacial Fe–Au bonds and remarkable charge transfer. The second layer of FeO exhibits a modulated ellipsoidal Moiré pattern because of the strong Fe–Fe bonds along with the variation of interlayer distance at different sites. This study on the growth mechanism and surface structures of mono- and bilayer FeO on Au(111) promotes future research on the metal oxide–substrate interactions in the field of catalysis.