Atomic force microscopy evidence for K+ domains on freshly cleaved mica

P. A. Campbell (Lead / Corresponding author), L. J. Sinnamon, C. E. Thompson, D. G. Walmsley

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35 Citations (Scopus)


The unit cell height in the c-direction of muscovite mica is well established at 10 Å. However, we have observed steps much lower than this whilst imaging freshly cleaved mica surfaces in an atomic force microscope. The steps, 1.0±0.05 Å high, are unstable and disappear in a period of minutes after cleavage. We propose that they are due to the presence of domains of residual K+ ions that form two matching patchworks on the cleaved faces. Upon cleavage, they relax inwards from the bulk equilibrium position 1.6 Å above the oxygen atoms of the tetrahedral silicate. Possible mechanisms for the disappearance of the steps are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L768-L772
Number of pages5
JournalSurface Science
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1998


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Mica
  • Surface structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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