Introducing a charge into a solid such as a metal oxide through chemical, electrical, or optical means can dramatically change its chemical or physical properties. To minimize its free energy, a lattice will distort in a material specific way to accommodate (screen) the Coulomb and exchange interactions presented by the excess charge. The carrier-lattice correlation in response to these interactions defines the spatial extent of the perturbing charge and can impart extraordinary physical and chemical properties such as superconductivity and catalytic activity. Here we investigate by experiment and theory the atomically resolved distribution of the excess charge created by a single oxygen atom vacancy and a hydroxyl (OH) impurity defects on rutile TiO2 (110) surface. Contrary to the conventional model where the charge remains localized at the defect, scanning tunneling microscopy and density functional theory show it to be delocalized over multiple surrounding titanium atoms. The characteristic charge distribution controls the chemical, photocatalytic, and electronic properties of TiO2 surfaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry