A combination of photoemission, atomic force, and scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy measurements shows that excess electrons in the TiO2 anatase (101) surface are trapped at step edges. Consequently, steps act as preferred adsorption sites for O2. In density functional theory calculations electrons localize at clean step edges; this tendency is enhanced by O vacancies and hydroxylation. The results show the importance of defects for the wide-ranging applications of titania.
Corresponding author: Ulrike Diebold (diebold).
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There is also a version in German: Angewandte Chemie 126 (2014) 4804-4807.