Characteristics of Cu islands grown on graphite, from experiment
(STM) and theory (Kinetic Monte Carlo simulations)
Lily-pad like islands of dysprosium on graphite.
Rows of sulfur atoms on Au(111)
Heart-shaped complexes on Cu(111). Each heart contains 2 copper
atoms and 3 sulfur atoms2
More images with descriptions
Surfaces and interfaces rule! They rule many
everyday physical phenomena such as corrosion and lubrication. They
also rule the world of micro- and nano-science and technology, because
as objects become smaller, the ratio of area-to-volume increases until
the object essentially has no volume, only area. In our research, our
goal is to gain a basic, atomic- or molecular-scale understanding of
model systems and then extrapolate that knowledge to real systems. In
constructing a model system, we consider two components: The surface,
and its environment. The surface is usually chosen such that the
surface atoms have long-range order, and the environment is ultrahigh
vacuum, which allows us to control reaction between a surface and its
environment very precisely. We are experimentalists. Our primary
technique is scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), complemented by
temperature programmed desorption (TPD) and X-ray photoelectron
As of October 2015, there are 2 major projects
underway in our group. These address important issues in fundamental
and applied surface chemistry/physics, and hold great promise for new
advances. They are funded separately by the Department of Energy (DOE)
and the National Science Foundation (NSF). They are:
Nucleation, growth, and intercalation of metal nanostructures
at, and beneath, graphitic surfaces (DOE); and
Adsorbate-metal complexes that form spontaneously on metal
surfaces, and their effect on metal nanostructures (NSF).
More detail on each is available at the “Research”
tab. Our work is enriched greatly by strategic collaborations with
other outstanding research groups around the world, both theoretical
Congratulations to Emma Kwolek
for Successfully defending her Ph.D.! Thesis title: "Surface Anaylsis
of Model Systems: From a metal-graphite interface to an intermetallic
Congratulations to Ann Lii and Peter
Spurgeon for winning an ISU Teaching Excellence Award, and to
Holly Walen for winning an ISU Research Excellence
Congratulations to Ann Lii
for being a Cotton-Uphouse finalist
Congratulations to Holly Walen
for Successfully defending her Ph.D.! Thesis title: "Sulfur-induced
structural motifs on copper and gold surfaces".
"Identification of Au-S complexes on Au(100)"
was published January 14th, 2016 by Physical Chemistry
New publication: "Interaction of oxygen with (111) surface of NaAu2" was published December 23rd, 2015
by Surface Science
Welcome our newest group member, graduate student Yu
Lim Kim who joined January 2016!
Congratulations to Holly Walen
for winning a National AVS Graduate Research Award, and the Surface
Science Division Mort Traum Award.
Welcome to Yinghui Zhou, a visiting scientist from
Xiamen University in China! Yinghui will be working on the DOE-funded
project pertaining to nucleation, growth, and intercalation of metal
nanostructures at, and beneath, graphitic surfaces.
New publication: "Long-range displacive reconstruction of Au(110)
triggered by low coverage of sulfur"
was published August 27th, 2015 by Journal of Physical
New publication: "Growth morphology and properties of metals on
graphene" was published
July 31st, 2015 by Progress in Surface Science.
New publication: "Self-organization of S adatoms on Au(111): Rt.3R30
rows at low coverage" was
published July 6th, 2015 by Journal of Chemical Physics.
New publication: "Reconstruction of steps on the Cu(111) surface
induced by sulfur" was
published May 21st, 2015 by Journal of Chemical Physics.
Congratulations to Holly Walen for winning a 2015
Teaching Excellence Award from the Chemistry Department at Iowa State!
New publication: "Preface: special topic on supramolecular
self-assembly at surfaces" was
published March 14th, 2015 by The Journal of Chemical Physics.
New publication: "Cu2S3 complex on Cu(111) as
a candidate for mass transport enhancement"
was published January 22nd, 2015 by Physical Review B.
New publication: "The (111) Surface of NaAu2: Structure,
Composition, and Stability" was
published December 17th, 2014 by Inorganic Chemistry.
New publication: "Determining whether metals nucleate homogeneously
on graphite: A case study with copper"
was published November 5th, 2014 by Physical Review B.
Welcome to our newest group members, graduate students Ann
Lii and Peter Spurgeon who joined Nov. 2014!
New publication: "Transition metals on the (0001) surface of
graphite: Fundamental aspects of adsorption, diffusion, and
morphology" was published
September 2nd, 2014 by Progress in Surface Science.
Congratulations to David Appy for successfully
defending his Ph.D.! Thesis title: "Nucleation and growth of metals on
carbon surfaces". He will begin a Lecturer position at the end of
August for the Department of Chemistry at Iowa State University.
The Thiel group members are so very proud to congratulate Prof.
Thiel for being named the 2014 winner of the AVS Medard W.
Welch Award for "seminal contributions to the understanding of
quasicrystalline surfaces and thin-film nucleation and growth"! Please
refer to this news release from the Ames Laboratory.
New publication: "Search for the Structure of a Sulfur-Induced
Reconstruction on Cu(111)" was published August 7th, 2014 by
The Journal of Physical Chemistry C.
Congratulations to Emma Kwolek for winning a 2014
Teaching Excellence Award, and to Holly Walen for
winning the Dr. Ching Ching Chiu Fellowship for Women Doctoral
Chemistry Students! Both awards are from the Department of Chemistry
at Iowa State.
New publication: "Structure of the clean Gd5Ge4(010)
surface" was published October 28th, 2013 by Journal of
Physics Condensed Matter.
New publication: "Analytic formulations for one-dimensional decay of
rectangular homoepitaxial islands during coarsening on anisotropic
fcc (110) surfaces" was published October 24th, 2013 by Physical
Congratulations to Dahai Shao for successfully
defending his Ph.D.! Thesis title: "Surface-Supported Ag Islands
Stabilized by a Quantum Size Effect: Their Interaction with Small
Molecules Relevant to Ethylene Epoxidation."
New publication: "Intermetallic NaAu2 as a heterogeneous
catalyst for low temperature CO oxidation" was published June
11, 2013 by Journal of the American Chemical Society.
New publication: "Growth
of fcc(111) Dy multi-height islands on 6H-SiC(0001) graphene"
was published May 15, 2013 by Journal of Physics: Condensed
New publication: "Anisotropic coarsening: One-dimensional decay of
Ag islands on Ag(110)" was published April 17, 2013 by Physical
New publication: "Communication: Structure, formation and
equilibration of ensembles of Ag-S complexes on an Ag surface"
was published February 15, 2013 by Journal of Chemical Physics.
New publication: "Surface Characterization of Clean Gd5Ge4(010)"
MRS Proceedings 1517 (2013).