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Nanocrystalline MnFe2O4 has shown promise as a catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline solutions, but the material has been sparingly studied as highly ordered thin-film catalysts. To examine the role of surface termination and Mn and Fe site occupancy, epitaxial MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4 spinel oxide films were grown on (001)- and (111)-oriented Nb:SrTiO3 perovskite substrates using molecular beam epitaxy and studied as electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). High-resolution X-ray diffraction (HRXRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) show the synthesis of pure phase materials, while scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) analysis demonstrate island-like growth of (111) surface-terminated pyramids on both (001)- and (111)-oriented substrates, consistent with the literature and attributed to the lattice mismatch between the spinel films and the perovskite substrate. Cyclic voltammograms under a N2 atmosphere revealed distinct redox features for Mn and Fe surface termination based on comparison of MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4. Under an O2 atmosphere, electrocatalytic reduction of oxygen was observed at both Mn and Fe redox features; however, a diffusion-limited current was only achieved at potentials consistent with Fe reduction. This result contrasts with that of nanocrystalline MnFe2O4 reported in the literature where the diffusion-limitedmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 7, 2023
Abstract Emergent behavior at oxide interfaces has driven research in complex oxide films for the past 20 years. Interfaces have been engineered for applications in spintronics, topological quantum computing, and high-speed electronics with properties not observed in bulk materials. Advances in synthesis have made the growth of these interfaces possible, while X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies have often explained the observed interfacial phenomena. This review discusses leading recent research, focusing on key results and the XPS studies that enabled them. We describe how the in situ integration of synthesis and spectroscopy improves the growth process and accelerates scientific discovery. Specific techniques include determination of interfacial intermixing, valence band alignment, and interfacial charge transfer. A recurring theme is the role that atmospheric exposure plays on material properties, which we highlight in several material systems. We demonstrate how synchrotron studies have answered questions that are impossible in lab-based systems and how to improve such experiments in the future.