Surface-Based Post-synthesis Manipulation of Point Defects in Metal Oxides Using Liquid Water

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Initial synthesis of semiconducting oxides leaves behind poorly controlled concentrations of unwanted atomic-scale defects that influence numerous electrical, optical, and reactivity properties. We have discovered through self-diffusion measurements and first-principles computations that poison-free oxide surfaces inject interstitial oxygen atoms into the crystalline solid when simply contacted with liquid water near room temperature. These interstitials diffuse quickly to depths of 20 nm−2 μm and are likely to eliminate prominent classes of unwanted defects or neutralize their action. The mild conditions of operation access a regime for oxide fabrication that relaxes important thermodynamic constraints that hamper defect regulation by conventional methods at higher temperatures. The surface-based approach appears well-suited for use with nanoparticles, porous oxides, and thin films for applications in advanced electronics, renewable energy storage, photocatalysis, and photoelectrochemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34059-34068
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number29
StatePublished - 2022


  • GaO
  • TiO
  • ZnO
  • defects
  • interstitials
  • metal oxides
  • oxygen
  • vacancies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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