Unique determination of the atomic structure of technologically relevant surfaces is often limited by both a need for homogeneous crystals and ambiguity of registration between the surface and bulk. Atomically resolved secondary-electron imaging is extremely sensitive to this registration and is compatible with faceted nanomaterials, but has not been previously utilized for surface structure determination. Here we report a detailed experimental atomic-resolution secondary-electron microscopy analysis of the c(6 × 2) reconstruction on strontium titanate (001) coupled with careful simulation of secondary-electron images, density functional theory calculations and surface monolayer-sensitive aberration-corrected plan-view high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. Our work reveals several unexpected findings, including an amended registry of the surface on the bulk and strontium atoms with unusual seven-fold coordination within a typically high surface coverage of square pyramidal TiO5 units. Dielectric screening is found to play a critical role in attenuating secondary-electron generation processes from valence orbitals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)