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The nature of the air-cleaved mica surface
Surface Science Reports ( IF 14.824 ) Pub Date : 2016-03-22 , DOI: 10.1016/j.surfrep.2016.03.001
Hugo K. Christenson, Neil H. Thomson

The accepted image of muscovite mica is that of an inert and atomically smooth surface, easily prepared by cleavage in an ambient atmosphere. Consequently, mica is extensively used a model substrate in many fundamental studies of surface phenomena and as a substrate for AFM imaging of biomolecules. In this review we present evidence from the literature that the above picture is not quite correct. The mica used in experimental work is almost invariably cleaved in laboratory air, where a reaction between the mica surface, atmospheric CO2 and water occurs immediately after cleavage. The evidence suggests very strongly that as a result the mica surface becomes covered by up to one formula unit of K2CO3 per nm2, which is mobile under humid conditions, and crystallises under drier conditions. The properties of mica in air or water vapour cannot be fully understood without reference to the surface K2CO3, and many studies of the structure of adsorbed water on mica surfaces may need to be revisited. With this new insight, however, the air-cleaved mica should provide exciting opportunities to study phenomena such as two-dimensional ion diffusion, electrolyte effects on surface conductivity, and two-dimensional crystal nucleation.
更新日期:2016-03-22

 

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