Interface and Surface Science Laboratory (ISSL)

The Batzill Group

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Why Surfaces?

Our group investigates fundamental structural, electronic, and chemical surface and interface properties of solid materials

Surfaces of materials are where the action is! Most chemical and physical processes such as gas-solid interactions, atomic-vapor deposition, corrosion, as well as environmental and technological chemical transformation reactions occur at the surface of a material. Therefore, a better understanding of the interplay between composition, structure and chemical properties are important for optimizing technological processes such as thin film synthesis, heterogeneous catalysis, solid state gas sensing, and photocatalysis. In addition, the formation of interfaces between dissimilar materials -- their structural and electronic properties -- is the basis for most microelectronic devices. Finally, reduced sizes and even dimensions of many nanomaterials results in surface properties to become dominant over bulk properties and consequently surface science studies are more important than ever.   

Our group currently has two major thrust areas, which enjoy funding from DOE-BES, NSF, and ONR:

Metal-oxide Surfaces

Metal oxides are ubiquitous in environmental processes (most materials are covered by an oxide in earth’s oxidizing atmosphere) and technological applications. Our research focuses on developing an understanding of the properties of simple oxides (structure, chemical, and electronic) properties, and the role of disorder and defects on these oxide surfaces on their fundamental properties. We also investigate how these properties can be tuned by structural and compositional modifications. In terms of applications we are particularly interested in photocatalysis and solid state gas sensors.


STM false color image of the two-dimensional phase of TiO2 with a reduced band-gap. For detail see: Nature Chem. 3, 296 (2011)

Selected recent publications:

"Adsorbate Induced Restructuring of TiO2(011)-(2×1) Leads to One-Dimensional Nanocluster Formation" Q. Cuan, J. Tao, X.Q. Gong, M. Batzill Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 106105 (2012).

"A two dimensional phase of TiO2 with a reduced band gap" J.G. Tao, T. Luttrell, M. Batzill Nature Chemistry 3, 296-300 (2011).

"Fundamental aspects of surface engineering of transition metal oxide photocatalysts" M. Batzill, Energy and Environ. Sci. 4, 3275-3286 (2011).

"Role of Surface Structure on the Charge Trapping in TiO2 Photocatalysts" J.G. Tao, M. Batzill J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 1, 3200 (2010)

Materials Science of Graphene

Graphene, a single atomic layer of carbon (graphite), has exciting electronic properties that make it an interesting potential material for novel electronic devices. In addition, it has shown some promise as gas sensing material and electron –collecting component in photocatalysts. Most of our research focuses on fundamental materials science issues of graphene synthesis (in particular chemical vapor deposition (CVD) growth) and mechanisms and control of interface formation between graphene and dissimilar materials, i.e. formation of heterostructured materials.  


Atomically resolved scanning tunneling microscopy image of point defects in graphene grown on Ni(111) substrate.

Selected recent publications:

"The surface science of graphene: Metal interfaces, CVD synthesis, nanoribbons, chemical modifications, and defects" M.Batzill, Surf. Sci. Rep. 67, 83-115 (2012).

"Monolayer graphene growth on Ni(111) by low temperature chemical vapor deposition" R. Addou, A. Dahal, P. Sutter, M. Batzill Appl. Phys. Lett. 100, 021601 (2012).

"Graphene Growth on Ni(111) by Transformation of a Surface Carbide" J. Lahiri, T. Miller, L. Adamska, I.I. Oleynik, M. Batzill Nano Letters 11, 518-522 (2011).

"An extended defect in graphene as a metallic wire" J. Lahiri, Y. Lin , P. Bozkurt, I. Oleynik, M. Batzill Nature Nanotechnology 5, 326 - 329 (2010).