The surfaces of metal oxides often are reconstructed with a geometry and composition that is considerably different from a simple termination of the bulk. Such structures can also be viewed as ultrathin films, epitaxed on a substrate. Here, the reconstructions of the SrTiO3(110) surface are studied combining scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), transmission electron diffraction, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), and analyzed with density functional theory calculations. Whereas SrTiO3(110) invariably terminates with an overlayer of titania, with increasing density its structure switches from n × 1 to 2 × n. At the same time the coordination of the Ti atoms changes from a network of corner-sharing tetrahedra to a double layer of edge-shared octahedra with bridging units of octahedrally coordinated strontium. This transition from the n × 1 to 2 × n reconstructions is a transition from a pseudomorphically stabilized tetrahedral network toward an octahedral titania thin film with stress-relief from octahedral strontia units at the surface.
Corresponding author: Zhiming Wang. Reprints also available from Ulrike Diebold (diebold).
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