There are a multitude of important chemical and physical processes that occur at surfaces and interfaces, the study of which have proved significant for a number of fields including heterogeneous catalysis, chemical sensors, electrical and magnetic devices, as well as material coatings. Thin films of the order of a few nanometres in thickness have been shown to be useful analogues of bulk materials and have also led to the discovery of novel behaviours and properties due to the reduced dimensionality inherent in such systems. In addition, the study of surfaces and thin films has driven the development of a number of technologically advanced experimental techniques that are required to probe and modify such systems down to the scale of single atoms.
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THIN FILMS, SURFACES AND INTERFACES
Figure: Theoretical prediction of electron trapping inside sub-nanoscale voids at grain boundaries in MgO; the cut plane in the figure shows the trapped electron density. [courtesy Keith McKenna and Alexander Shluger; doi: 10.1038/nmat2289]