Copper, vapor-deposited on the polar, Zn-terminated ZnO(0001) surface is investigated in view of its suitability as model system for the technologically important Cu/ZnO catalyst. The structure and electronic properties of Cu clusters on ZnO(0001)-Zn have been studied with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), low energy electron diffraction (LEED), ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS), and low-energy He+ ion scattering (LEIS). At room temperature copper grows as two-dimensional (2D) clusters only at very low coverages of 0.001-0.05 equivalent monolayers (ML). At coverages greater than 0.01 ML, 3D clusters start to develop. This is contrasted to Cu growth on the oxygen-terminated ZnO(0001bar) surface, where a strong adhesion between Cu and the ZnO substrate results in an initial wetting of the surface by Cu. On ZnO(0001)-Zn, surface roughness and sputter damage change the growth mode to more 2D-like. Annealing in UHV results in well-separated, hexagonal clusters rotationally aligned with the substrate. Annealing of 2-5 ML Cu deposits on the ZnO(0001)-Zn surface in 10-6 mbar O2 results in the formation of a (√3 × √3)R30° superstructure with respect to the ZnO lattice. This superstructure likely contains Cu+ sites. The suitability of the different surface morphologies to probe specific sites that are thought to be active for catalytic processes is discussed.
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