Using a combined experimental and theoretical approach, we show that the initial oxidation of a Rh(553) surface, a surface vicinal to (111), undergoes step bunching when exposed to oxygen, forming lower-index facets. At a pressure of about 10(-6) mbar and a temperature of 380 degrees C this leads to (331) facets with one-dimensional oxide chains along the steps, coexisting with (111) facets. Further increase of the pressure and temperature results in (111) facets only, covered by an O-Rh-O surface oxide. Our density functional theory calculations provide an atomistic understanding of the observed behavior.
2006. Vol. 74, no 3