Role of chemisorbing species in growth at liquid metal-electrolyte interfaces revealed by in situ X-ray scattering
Liquid-liquid interfaces offer intriguing possibilities for nanomaterials growth. Here, fundamental interface-related mechanisms that control the growth behavior in these systems are studied for Pb halide formation at the interface between NaX + PbX2 (X = F, Cl, Br) and liquid Hg electrodes using in situ X-ray scattering and complementary electrochemical and microscopy measurements. These studies reveal a decisive role of the halide species in nucleation and growth of these compounds. In Cl- and Br-containing solution, deposition starts by rapid formation of well-defined ultrathin (∼7 Å) precursor adlayers, which provide a structural template for the subsequent quasi-epitaxial growth of c-axis oriented Pb(OH)X bulk crystals. In contrast, growth in F-containing solution proceeds by slow formation of a more disordered deposit, resulting in random bulk crystal orientations on the Hg surface. These differences can be assigned to the interface chemistry, specifically halide chemisorption, which steers the formation of these highly textured deposits at the liquid-liquid interface.