Stable Cation Inversion at the MgAl2O4(100) Surface

Morten K. Rasmussen, Adam S. Foster, Berit Hinnemann, Filippo F. Canova, Stig Helveg, Kristoffer Meinander, Natalia M. Martin, Jan Knudsen, Alina Vlad, Edvin Lundgren, Andreas Stierle, Flemming Besenbacher, Jeppe V. Lauritsen

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From an interplay of atom-resolved noncontact atomic force microscopy, surface x-ray diffraction experiments, and density functional theory calculations, we reveal the detailed atomic-scale structure of the (100) surface of an insulating ternary metal oxide, MgAl2O4 (spinel). We surprisingly find that the MgAl2O4(100) surface is terminated by an Al and O-rich structure with a thermodynamically favored amount of Al atoms interchanged with Mg. This finding implies that so-called Mg-Al antisites, which are defects in the bulk of MgAl2O4, become a thermodynamically stable and integral part of the surface.
Original languageEnglish
Article number036102
Pages (from-to)1-4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • AFM
  • Oxides


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