Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Surface-reaction induced structural oscillations in the subsurface



Xianhu Sun, Wenhui Zhu, Dongxiang WU, Chaoran Li, Jianyu Wang, Yaguang Zhu, Xiaobo Chen, Jorge A. Boscoboinik, Renu Sharma, Guangwen Zhou


Surface and subsurface are commonly considered as separate entities because of the difference in the bonding environment and are often investigated separately due to the experimental challenges in differentiating the surface and subsurface effects. Using in situ atomic-scale transmission electron microscopy that spatially and temporally resolves the surface and subsurface at the same time, we reveal that the hydrogen-CuO surface reaction results in structural oscillations in the deeper atomic layers via the cycles of ordering and disordering of oxygen vacancies in the subsurface. Together with atomistic calculations, we show that the structural oscillations in the subsurface are trigered by the hydrogen adsorption induced cyclic loss of oxygen from the oxide surface. These results demonstrate the propagation of the surface reaction dynamics into the deeper layers in inducing nonstoichiometry in the subsurface and have significant implications in modulating various chemical processes involving surface- subsurface mass transport such as heterogeneous catalysis, oxidation, corrosion and carburization.
Nature Communications


Surface reaction, catalysis, CuO, structural oscillation, In situ


Sun, X. , Zhu, W. , WU, D. , Li, C. , Wang, J. , Zhu, Y. , Chen, X. , Boscoboinik, J. , Sharma, R. and Zhou, G. (2020), Surface-reaction induced structural oscillations in the subsurface, Nature Communications, [online],, (Accessed May 28, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created January 15, 2020, Updated October 12, 2021