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  1. Transition metal oxides have long been an area of interest for water electrocatalysis through the oxygen evolution and oxygen reduction reactions. Iron oxides, such as LaFeO 3 , are particularly promising due to the favorable energy alignment of the valence and conduction bands comprised of Fe 3+ cations and the visible light band gap of such materials. In this work, we examine the role of band alignment on the electrocatalytic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in the intrinsic semiconductor LaFeO 3 by growing epitaxial films of varying thicknesses on Nb-doped SrTiO 3 . Using cyclic voltammetry, we find that there is a strong thickness dependence on the efficiency of electrocatalysis for OER. These measurements are understood based on interfacial band alignment in the system as well as catalytically active surface defect states as confirmed by layer-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, and Mott–Schottky measurements. Our results demonstrate the importance of band engineering for the rational design of thin film electrocatalysts for renewable energy sources.
  2. 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.