Autocatalytic growth of ZnO nanorods from flat Au(111)-supported ZnO films
Physical vapour deposition of ZnO on an Au(111) support has been investigated as a function of the oxygen chemical potential by means of scanning tunnelling microscopy and luminescence spectroscopy. Whereas a layer-by-layer growth of ZnO is revealed in oxygen excess, formation of oxide nanorods with large height-to-diameter ratio prevails at lower oxygen chemical potentials. We ascribe the formation of 3D nanostructures in the latter case to traces of Au atoms on the surface that promote trapping and dissociation of the incoming oxygen molecules. The Au residuals, acting as catalyst for the oxide formation, are indeed found on top of the ZnO nanorods.