Scanning tunnelling microscopy studies of α-Fe2O3(0001)

N. G. Condon, F. M. Leibsle, A. R. Lennie, P. W. Murray, T. M. Parker, D. J. Vaughan, G. Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) images of two different reconstructions of an α-Fe2O3(0001) crystal are presented. Annealing the sample to 1000 K creates a selvedge stabilised by a thin film of Fe3O4, with its (111) plane parallel to the basal plane of the underlying substrate. The STM images confirm that this surface is structurally equivalent to that previously reported for the surface of Fe3O4(111) single crystals, in that two coexisting terminations, denoted A and B, are present separated by alternate steps. Termination A has been identified with 1/4 ML of O atoms capping 3/4 ML of Fe atoms, while termination B consists of 1/2 ML of Fe atoms overlaying a close-packed O layer. Some regions of the sample are disordered but contain small triangular islands of termination A. This structure is attributed to Ar ion induced sputter damage. A different termination, created by annealing the sample at 1100 K in 1 × 10-6 mbar O2, has a distinctive hexagonal LEED pattern, with all the main beams floreted, being surrounded by a hexagon of smaller spots. The STM results show that this surface is stabilized by coexisting α-Fe2O3(0001) and Fe1 - xO(111) phases, with each phase existing in atomically well ordered islands of mesoscopic dimensions. The islands themselves are arranged to form a superlattice. The formation of this superlattice can be explained in terms of the lattice mismatch between the two types of oxygen sub-lattices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalSurface Science
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1998


  • iron oxide
  • low energy electron diffraction: Low index single crystal surfaces
  • scanning tunneling microscopy
  • surface structure


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