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The structural and chemical complexity of materials used in heterogeneous catalysis and energy-related technologies often limits the understanding of the fundamental surface processes leading to their specific function. By using model surfaces of reduced complexity and with sophisticated, mostly ultrahigh vacuum based experimental techniques that allow surfaces to be studied with atomic or molecular scale resolution (often combined with advanced computational methods), Surface Science provided insight into the elementary surface processes. However, questions still remain as to what extent the results of such model studies can really be transferred to a realistic system. In order to provide insight into this issue, our research activities in this field aim for a detailed understanding of factors governing the structural and electronic properties of model systems under various environmental conditions. We utilize well-defined metal single-crystal surfaces and metal nanoparticles supported on single-crystalline oxide thin films as model systems and examine, for example:
- adsorption and reaction on well-defined surfaces from ultrahigh vacuum to elevated pressure;
- functionalization of oxide surface and its influence on the electronic structure, geometric structure and sintering of supported metal nanoparticles;
- preparation of model catalysts using procedures applied in technical catalysis.
The main experimental techniques applied in these studies are: Scanning Tunneling Microscopy, Vibrational Spectroscopy, Photoemission Spectroscopy and Thermal Desorption Studies.