The initial stages of silicate growth on graphite are characterized with atomic force microscopy. The morphological development indicates that decomposition of tetra ethyloxysilane at low pressure produces films of 3 nm clusters located at undercoordinated carbon sites. Clusters eventually cover the surface, at which point a second layer grows. In higher pressure deposition multiple layers of clusters grow simultaneously. A comparison of the oxidation behavior of surfaces with defects completely and incompletely terminated with SiOx shows that edge recession is the primary oxidation mechanism and that the site specificity of SiOx is effective in inhibiting oxidation.
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