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Title: Direct evidence for low-energy electron emission following O LVV Auger transitions at oxide surfaces

Oxygen, the third most abundant element in the universe, plays a key role in the chemistry of condensed matter and biological systems. Here, we report evidence for a hitherto unexplored Auger transition in oxides, where a valence band electron fills a vacancy in the 2s state of oxygen, transferring sufficient energy to allow electron emission. We used a beam of positrons with kinetic energies of$$\sim 1$$1 eV to create O 2s holes via matter-antimatter annihilation. This made possible the elimination of the large secondary electron background that has precluded definitive measurements of the low-energy electrons emitted through this process. Our experiments indicate that low-energy electron emission following the Auger decay of O 2s holes from adsorbed oxygen and oxide surfaces are very efficient. Specifically, our results indicate that the low energy electron emission following the Auger decay of O 2s hole is nearly as efficient as electron emission following the relaxation of O 1s holes in$$\hbox {TiO}_2$$TiO2. This has important implications for the understanding of Auger-stimulated ion desorption, Coulombic decay, photodynamic cancer therapies, and may yield important insights into the radiation-induced reactive sites for corrosion and catalysis.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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