Subsurface miscibility of metal overlayers with V, Nb and Ta substrates

E. Hüger, Herbert Wormeester, K. Osuch

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The high solubility and diffusivity of oxygen in Nb, Ta and V are responsible for the difficulty in the preparation of a clean, well-ordered (1 0 0) surfaces of these early transition metals. The deposition and subsequent annealing of a metal overlayer on Nb(1 0 0) are a convenient route for the preparation of flat surfaces with the Nb lattice constant and a metallic character. Such well-ordered, stable, inert and easily reproducible Nb(1 0 0)-like surfaces can be produced due to the suppression of oxygen surface segregation by a suitable layer blocking sub-surface oxygen diffusion. For example, a Nb(1 0 0)-like surface can be obtained by annealing thin Au or Pd films deposited on Nb(1 0 0), since this results in a Au–Nb or Pd–Nb alloy situated just below the surface which preserves the structure of the Nb-lattice and effectively suppresses the oxygen segregation toward the surface. In contrast, Ag and Cu layers do not show this property as these metals do not form a bulk alloy with Nb. The presence or absence of bulk alloying and its relation to surface oxygen contamination is a general phenomena observed for many metallic layers deposited on V, Nb and Ta substrates. A discussion of results reported in the literature is given for these adsorbate systems.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)173-194
Number of pages22
JournalSurface science
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Epitaxial growth
  • Surface contamination
  • IR-77400
  • METIS-227118
  • Subsurface alloying

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