Mechanism and energetics of O and O2 adsorption on polar and non-polar ZnO surfaces

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Polar surfaces of semiconducting metal oxides can exhibit structures and chemical reactivities that are distinct from their non-polar surfaces. Using first-principles calculations, we examine O adatom and O2 molecule adsorption on 8 different known ZnO reconstructions including Zn-terminated (Zn-ZnO) and O-terminated (O-ZnO) polar surfaces, and non-polar surfaces. We find that adsorption tendencies are largely governed by the thermodynamic environment, but exhibit variations due to the different surface chemistries of various reconstructions. The Zn-ZnO surface reconstructions which appear under O-rich and H-poor environments are found to be most amenable to O and O2 adsorption. We attribute this to the fact that on Zn-ZnO, the O-rich environments that promote O adsorption also simultaneously favor reconstructions that involve adsorbed O species. On these Zn-ZnO surfaces, O2 dissociatively adsorbs to form O adatoms. By contrast, on O-ZnO surfaces, the O-rich conditions required for O or O2 adsorption tend to promote reconstructions involving adsorbed H species, making further O species adsorption more difficult. These insights about O2 adsorption on ZnO surfaces suggest possible design rules to understand the adsorption properties of semiconductor polar surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184708
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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