Authors: Giuseppe Zollo, Kersti Hermansson, and Lorenzo Agosta
Water on metal oxides interfaces generate a variety of ordered motifs that depend on the structural properties of the exposed solid surfaces. Here we emphasize the importance of considering the thermodynamic state of the surrounding liquid to find the interface structures in real systems. In particular, using ab initio molecular dynamics, we have studied the thermodynamic behavior of the water induced reconstructed (WIR) anatase (0 0 1) surface under full hydration. The long standing issue of the reconstruction symmetry in this facet of the anatase, that is the TiO2 stable phase at the nanoscale, is addressed showing that the stable state for a WIR surface in vacuum and in bulk water are different, the latter depending on the thermodynamic state of the system. Thermally activated surface phase transitions between (2×4) and (2×3) symmetries are lead by the surface relaxation caused by the molecular adsorption and release phenomena at the interface. Our approach enables the validation to aqueous environment of surface-confined water structures derived in vacuum, emphasizing the role of the thermodynamics conditions for characterizing solid-liquid interfaces especially for nano sized systems.
Applied Surface Science, 550, 2021, 149354