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Title: Ultra-thin oxide films
Author: Hu, Xiao
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 8744
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Oxide ultra-thin film surfaces have properties and structures that are significantly different from the terminations of the corresponding bulk crystals. For example, surface structures of epitaxial ultra-thin oxide films are highly influenced by the crystallinity and electronegativity of the metal substrates they grown on. Some enhanced properties of the novel reconstructions are related to catalysis, sensing and microelectronics, which has resulted in an increasing interest in this field. Ultra-thin TiOx films were grown on Au(111) substrates in this work. Two well-ordered structures within monolayer coverage - honeycomb (HC) and pinwheel - were generated and investigated. Special attention has been paid to the uniform (2 x 2) Ti2O3 HC phase including its regular structure and imperfections such as domain boundaries (DBs) and point defects. Linear DBs with long-range repeating units have been observed; density functional theory (DFT) modelling has been used to simulate their atomic structures and calculate their formation energies. Rotational DBs/defects show up less frequently, however a six-fold symmetrical 'snowflake' DB loop stands out. Two types of point defects have been discovered and assigned to Ti vacancies and oxygen vacancies/hydroxyl groups. Their diffusion manners and pairing habits have been discussed within an experimental context. The results of growing NbOx ultra-thin films on Au(111) are also presented in this thesis. An identical looking (2 x 2) HC structure to the Ti2O3 ultra-thin film has been formed; a stoichiometry of Nb2O3 is suggested. Another interesting reconstruction is a hollow triangle structure. Various sizes have been found, and sides of these equilateral triangles all show a double-line feature aligned along the { 1 ₁⁻ } directions of the Au(111) lattice. Chemical composition characterisations of NbOx thin films are still required as is DFT modelling. Experimental techniques used in this thesis include scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), low energy electron diffraction (LEED), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Ultra-thin oxide films were created by physical vapour deposition (PVD) in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) systems.
Supervisor: Castell, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Materials ; Au(111) substrate ; titanium oxide ; niobium oxide ; thin film ; domain boundary ; surface reconstruction ; scanning tunnelling microscope ; 2D material ; nanomaterial ; surface science ; epitaxial growth