Deciphering complex features in STM images of O adatoms on Ag(110)

Takat B. Rawal, Marco Smerieri, Jagriti Pal, Sampyo Hong, Matti Alatalo, Letizia Savio, Luca Vattuone, Talat S. Rahman, Mario Rocca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Recently it was demonstrated that atomic oxygen can cause the extraction of substrate atoms off metal surfaces thus generating chemically different active sites. For Ag(110) this process occurs when O2 is dosed at 175 K leading, at low coverage, to the formation of single Ag vacancies. Vacancy creation proceeds thereby via the formation of O-Ag-O complexes, which involve a local reconstruction of the surface and ignite the disruption of the Ag substrate. In this paper, we report on the details of such processes and on the isolated structures formed by the O adatoms in the limit of very low coverage. We employ scanning tunneling microscopy and density functional theory to unravel the complex structures of O/Ag(110) which are transiently present under specific reaction conditions. A variety of features such as isolated gray dots, sombreros, shallow gray and white structures oriented along [001] and [110], gray stripes, and lozenges were identified and assigned to O adatoms in different configurations. The zigzag chains interact strongly with the STM tip and are easily disrupted, giving rise to highly mobile, sombrero-shaped, isolated O adatoms also far away from the scanned area, i.e., from the current injection spot. Around 200 K, not only Ag vacancies, which are mobile with anisotropic migration, can merge together into rather complex features, but also the mobile Ag atoms are trapped by O adatoms, thus facilitating the formation of an oxygen-decorated Ag chain along [001] which ultimately induces the well-known added-row reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035405
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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