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Rev Sci Instrum ; 89(8): 083906, 2018 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30184714


The structure of the solid-liquid interface often defines the function and performance of materials in applications. To study this interface at the atomic scale, we extended an ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) surface-science chamber with an apparatus that allows bringing a surface in contact with ultrapure liquid water without exposure to air. In this process, a sample, typically a single crystal prepared and characterized in UHV, is transferred into a separate, small chamber. This chamber already contains a volume of ultrapure water ice. The ice is at cryogenic temperature, which reduces its vapor pressure to the UHV range. Upon warming, the ice melts and forms a liquid droplet, which is deposited on the sample. In test experiments, a rutile TiO2(110) single crystal exposed to liquid water showed unprecedented surface purity, as established by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy. These results enabled us to separate the effect of pure water from the effect of low-level impurities present in the air. Other possible uses of the setup are discussed.

Science ; 361(6404): 786-789, 2018 08 24.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30139869


Researchers around the world have observed the formation of molecularly ordered structures of unknown origin on the surface of titanium dioxide (TiO2) photocatalysts exposed to air and solution. Using a combination of atomic-scale microscopy and spectroscopy, we show that TiO2 selectively adsorbs atmospheric carboxylic acids that are typically present in parts-per-billion concentrations while effectively repelling other adsorbates, such as alcohols, that are present in much higher concentrations. The high affinity of the surface for carboxylic acids is attributed to their bidentate binding. These self-assembled monolayers have the unusual property of being both hydrophobic and highly water-soluble, which may contribute to the self-cleaning properties of TiO2 This finding is relevant to TiO2 photocatalysis, because the self-assembled carboxylate monolayers block the undercoordinated surface cation sites typically implicated in photocatalysis.