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Phys Rev Lett. 2003 Sep 19;91(12):126101. Epub 2003 Sep 16.

Na adsorption on the Si111-(7 x 7) surface: from two-dimensional gas to nanocluster array.

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  • 1Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-855, Japan.


We have systematically investigated Na adsorption on the Si(111)-(7 x 7) surface at room temperature using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). Below the critical coverage of 0.08 monolayer, we find intriguing contrast modulation instead of localized Na adsorbates, coupled with streaky noise in the STM images, which is accompanied by monotonic work function drop. Above the critical coverage, Na clusters emerge and form a self-assembled array. Combined with first-principles theoretical simulations, we conclude that the Na atoms on the (7 x 7) surface are, while strongly bound ( approximately 2.2 eV) to the surface, highly mobile in "basins" around the Si rest atoms, forming a two-dimensional gas phase at the initial coverage, and that the cluster at the higher coverage consists of six Na atoms together with three Si adatoms.

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