Surface structure of the Ag-In-(rare earth) complex intermetallics

Hars, S S, Sharma, H R, Smerdon, Joe orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7387-8362, Yadav, T P, Al-Mahboob, A, Ledieu, J, Fournee, V, Tamura, R and McGrath, R (2016) Surface structure of the Ag-In-(rare earth) complex intermetallics. Physical Review B, 93 (20). ISSN 2469-9950

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We present a study of the surface structure of the Ag-In-RE (RE: rare-earth elements Gd, Tb, and Yb) complex intermetallics using scanning tunneling microscopy and low-energy electron diffraction. The surface of the Ag-In-Yb approximant prepared by sputter-annealing methods under ultrahigh-vacuum conditions produces a flat (100) surface with no facets. However, the Ag-In-Gd and Ag-In-Tb 1/1 approximants, which have a surface miscut of about 12∘ relative to the (100) plane, develop surface facets along various crystallographic directions. The structure of each facet can be explained as a truncation of the rhombic triacontahedral clusters, i.e., the main building blocks of these systems. Despite their differences in atomic structure, symmetry, and density, the facets show common features. The facet planes are In rich. The analysis of the nearest-neighbor atom distances suggests that In atoms form bonds with the RE atoms, which we suggest is a key factor that stabilizes even low-density facet planes.

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