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Manipulating Single Atoms
The ability of TiO2 to split water when exposed to light can be exploited in solar cells and self-cleaning windows. We used STM to shed light on this system. By applying electical pulses (3 V) from an STM tip, individual H-atoms were selectively desorbed (Fig 1). This allowed us to distinguish H-atoms from oxygen vacancies, which have a similar appearance in STM. Then, by exposing the H-free titania to water, individual vacancies were observed being transformed into H-atoms as water molecules dissociate in the vacancies.
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