Authors: Igor Beinik, Matti Hellström, Tomas N. Jensen, Peter Broqvist, and Jeppe V. Lauritsen
Metal adhesion on metal oxides is strongly controlled by the oxide surface structure and composition, but lack of control over the surface conditions often limits the possibilities to exploit this in opto- and micro-electronics applications and heterogeneous catalysis where nanostructural control is of utmost importance. The Cu/ZnO system is among the most investigated of such systems in model studies, but the presence of subsurface ZnO defects and their important role for adhesion on ZnO have been unappreciated so far. Here we reveal that the surface-directed migration of subsurface defects affects the Cu adhesion on polar ZnO(0001) in the technologically interesting temperature range up to 550 K. This leads to enhanced adhesion and ultimately complete wetting of ZnO(0001) by a Cu overlayer. On the basis of our experimental and computational results we demonstrate a mechanism which implies that defect concentrations in the bulk are an important, and possibly controllable, parameter for the metal-on-oxide growth.
Nature Communications 6, Article number: 8845