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Nanostructure Growth on Surfaces

Our work focuses on low dimensional surface structures (ultrathin metallic films, islands, wires, etc.), especially in systems exhibiting Quantum Size Effects (QSE). Since such structures are metastable and are grown far from equilibrium, it is important to identify the optimal kinetic pathways. This requires a better understanding of many atomistic processes (surface diffusion, nucleation, coarsening, etc.) that define the kinetic pathway. In addition the properties of the grown structures (band structure, density-of-states, etc.) depend on the structure's dimensions, so this also opens the possibility to control their potential uses in chemical reactivity and energy storage.

Phenomena on the nanoscale can be very different from phenomena in the bulk. Either because of free bonds of atoms at the nanostructure edges, or because quantum mechanics becomes more important on the nanoscale, unexpected effects and properties emerge. One of the goals is to discover robust ways to grow surface-supported nanostructures (nanoislands, nanodots, nanowires, etc.) with controllable dimensions (height, size, shape) and morphology (flat-top, wedding cake, stepped, etc). A different goal is to use these custom-made controllable nanostructures to enhance the rate of atomistic processes (nucleation, adsorption) and the yield of chemical reactions.