Mesoscopic Structures and Coexisting Phases in Silica Films

Kristen Burson, Hyun Jin Yang , Daniel S. Wall, Thomas Marsh, Zechao Yang, David Kuhness, Matthias Brinker, Leonard Gura, Markus Heyde, Wolf-Dieter Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Silica films represent a unique two-dimensional film system, exhibiting both crystalline and vitreous forms. While much scientific work has focused on the atomic-scale features of this film system, mesoscale structures can play an important role for understanding confined space reactions and other applications of silica films. Here, we report on mesoscale structures in silica films grown under ultrahigh vacuum and examined with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). Silica films can exhibit coexisting phases of monolayer, zigzag, and bilayer structures. Both holes in the film structure and atomic-scale substrate steps are observed to influence these coexisting phases. In particular, film regions bordering holes in silica bilayer films exhibit vitreous character, even in regions where the majority film structure is crystalline. At high coverages mixed zigzag and bilayer phases are observed at step edges, while at lower coverages silica phases with lower silicon densities are observed more prevalently near step edges. The STM images reveal that silica films exhibit rich structural diversity at the mesoscale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3736-3742
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)

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