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STM study of lead and bismuth structures on copper(001)

Yun Chen, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This work studies the stable room temperature structures of metal on metal overlayers. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, the advent of the atomic imaging technique of Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) makes it now possible to directly observe complicated surface structures. This was demonstrated by the success of unraveling the (7$\times$7)-Si(111) surface structure that had withstood the storm of investigation for over 20 years. We wanted to apply this technique to the study of metallic overlayer structures, a field known for its large variety of structures. The second purpose was to investigate the feasibility and to hopefully develop a simple intuitive approach to metallic overlayer structure prediction, an approach that incorporates explicitly the extended nature of the metallic electron system. The Pb and Bi systems have large numbers of valence electrons per atom. Therefore, the electronic effects are expected to be prominent. The difference between the numbers of valence electrons of the respective atoms is relatively small but significant. This provides an opportunity to observe a quantitative variation of the effects. This study constitutes the first STM investigation of the ordered Pb and Bi structures on Cu(001). Many structural features observed using this technique disagree with the existing models derived from the electron diffraction and other scattering experiments. The differences between our observation and the current structural models are qualitative ones, thus demanding a rethinking and supplementation of the basic ideas involved in the construction of the structural models. Observation of the great similarities between the adsorbed Pb and Bi systems, lead to the new modeling approach. In our discussion, the metal adsorbate layers are described as a simple quasi-two-dimensional metal weakly coupled to the host substrate. This is consistent with the familiar notion that all metals exhibits similar properties. Our detailed analysis also discusses the Brillouin zone mechanism as a new way of lowering the energy of a given structure. In the end it enabled us to justify the occurrence of all the ordered Pb and Bi structures on Cu(001). We propose this simple model as a general approach to predict stable structures of metallic overlayers.

Subject Area

Condensation|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Chen, Yun, "STM study of lead and bismuth structures on copper(001)" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9619380.