Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) have been used to study the structures produced by water on Ru(0001) at temperatures above 140 K. It was found that while undissociated water layers are metastable below 140 K, heating above this temperature produces drastic transformations, whereby a fraction of the water molecules partially dissociate and form mixed H2O-OH structures. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and XAS revealed the presence of hydroxyl groups with their O-H bond essentially parallel to the surface. STM images show that the mixed H2O-OH structures consist of long narrow stripes aligned with the three crystallographic directions perpendicular to the close-packed atomic rows of the Ru(0001) substrate. The internal structure of the stripes is a honeycomb network of H-bonded water and hydroxyl species. We found that the metastable low temperature molecular phase can also be converted to a mixed H2O-OH phase through excitation by the tunneling electrons when their energy is 0.5 eV or higher above the Fermi level. Structural models based on the STM images were used for density functional theory optimizations of the stripe geometry. The optimized geometry was then utilized to calculate STM images for comparison with the experiment.
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- LIQUID WATER