“The atomic scale structure of material surfaces in contact with gases and liquids at ambient conditions: From catalysis to atmospheric science and electrochemistry”
The field of Surface Science has played an important role in the Chemical and Semiconductor industries by providing information on the atomic scale structure and dynamics of material surfaces and interfaces. However, large gaps in the fundamental knowledge of interfaces still exist today, which originate from the fact that most of the atomic scale research has been performed in idealized high vacuum environments where sophisticated microscopy and spectroscopy tools operate best. These gaps impact our understanding of catalytic reactions, atmospheric chemistry, batteries, etc. Over the last few years my group has developed new techniques that allowed us to circumvent many of the environmental pressure limitations and made possible to determine the atomic structure of surfaces in contact with gases and liquids. I will illustrate with a few examples how with the new techniques we discovered dramatic changes that occur when the surfaces are exposed to gases and to liquid environments, leading to new structures and catalytic properties, and new understanding of nature of liquid and electrode interfaces, of capital importance in electrochemistry, atmospheric science, and battery technologies.