In virtually all applications, the surfaces of metal oxides play a major, and often the dominant role. Hence a more in-depth understanding of the surface of metal oxides surface is key to understanding and improving device performance. In her research lab, Prof. Diebold uses Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy (STM), in combination with surface spectroscopic and diffraction techniques, to unravel the atomic-scale geometry, electronic structure, and reactivity of surfaces at the atomic scale. STM allows to investigate processes at surfaces in a direct manner, as well as on a molecule-by-molecule basis. So far she has mostly concentrated on semiconducting binary metal oxides such as TiO2, SnO2, ZnO, or Fe3O4.
Already in 1993, Prof. Diebold studied metal oxides at Tulane University in New Orleans. Her research on titanium oxide, an important component of photocatalysis, attracted notice at that time. In 2010, she returned to the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), where she had obtained her PhD degree in 1990. Two years after her return to Vienna, she received a grant of the European Research Council ERC for further research on metal oxide surfaces.
Each year, the American Chemical Society confers the Arthur W. Adamson Award to a researcher with outstanding achievements in surface chemistry. The award consists of a medallion, a certificate and 5,000 US dollars prize money. Last month, Prof. Diebold received the award personally in a ceremony at the ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. (© Vienna University of Technology, AcademiaNet)