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Nano-electrochemistry on vicinal sufaces

The proposed thesis aims to study the electrochemical role of nano-structures on vicinal surfaces. Nano-structured electrodes can show preferential charge transfer and a significant influence on the characteristic current-voltage plot. On the other hand, many electrolytes can produce ion super-structures that can be modified by nanostructured electrode surfaces. In this case, an electrochemical scanning probe microscopy (EC-STM) plays a key role in combining electrochemical measures (e.g., current-voltage plot) and topographical analysis. This represents a hot research topic for possible applications in new devices. In fact, while nano-technology has improved the performances of daily-life instruments, there is still a lack in our knowledge that could open the route towards a parallel improvement of our devices that work at the liquid/solid interface (e.g., sensors). Vicinal surfaces offer a sort of a model system for the investigation of nano-structures at the liquid/solid interface. In fact, when a crystal is cut to expose high Miller indices, the surface is characterized by atomic step edges (see the figure) that run along the surface. We require that the undergraduate student has a basic knowledge of chemistry. This is a prerequisite in view of handling simple chemical preparations used during the experiments. After a quick training on the use of the EC-AFM / STM, the undergraduate student will be involved in the acquisition of EC-AFM/STM images, data analysis and correlation with other specific chemical analysis [i.e. cyclic voltammetry (CV)]. The thesis is a full-time (from Monday to Friday) work that takes at least nine months.

J. H. Baricuatro et al., "Selective conversion of CO into ethanol on Cu(511) surface reconstructed from Cu(pc): Operando studies by electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy, mass spectrometry, quartz crystal nanobalance, and infrared spectroscopy", J. Electroanal. Chem. 857 (2020) 113704.