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    Oxygen adatoms on the MoO2+x/Mo(110) surface are observed to be removed when a sufficiently large bias is applied between the scanning tunneling microscope tip and the surface. Experimental observations, such as the bias polarity dependence of adatom removal and the observation of an intermediate state, indicate that the adatom penetrates the surface oxide layer. Through the comparison of finite element method simulations with various experimental relationships, the electric field is concluded to be the sole contributor to adatom penetration into the surface oxide layer. The energetic barrier to this process is estimated to be approximately 0.45 eV in magnitude. Furthermore, the resolution of this phenomenon is on the atomic scale: individual adatoms can undergo surface penetration whilst their nearest neighbour adatoms, separated by 5 Å, are unaffected. The mechanism reported here has the advantages of not strongly influencing the substrate and is exceptionally localised, which can be beneficial for the synthesis of single atom devices.


    Sergey I Bozhko, Killian Walshe, Natalia Tulina, Brian Walls, Olaf Lübben, Barry E Murphy, Vladimir Bozhko, Igor V Shvets. Surface modification on MoO2+x/Mo(110) induced by a local electric potential. Scientific reports. 2019 Apr 17;9(1):6216

    PMID: 30996282

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