It is of fundamental and practical interest to understand the oxidation process since a desirable property for metals is resistance to corrosion. But there is a wide gap between information provided by surface science methods and that provided by bulk oxidation studies. The former have mainly examined the adsorption of ∼ 1 ML of oxygen on the metal surface, where as both low and high temperature bulk oxidation studies have mainly focused on the growth of an oxide layer at the later stages of oxidation.
We are probing the initial oxidation stage of a model metal system by in situ ultra-high vacuum (UHV) transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in order to gain insights into the initial kinetics of oxidation. We have previously shown that the growth mechanism of the cuprous oxide is initially dominated by oxygen surface diffision.