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Attractive van der Waals–London dispersion interactions between two half crystals arise from local physical property gradients within the interface layer separating the crystals. Hamaker coefficients and London dispersion energies were quantitatively determined for Σ5 and near-Σ13 grain boundaries in SrTiO3 by analysis of spatially resolved valence electron energy-loss spectroscopy (VEELS) data. From the experimental data, local complex dielectric functions were determined, from which optical properties can be locally analyzed. Both local electronic structures and optical properties revealed gradients within the grain boundary cores of both investigated interfaces. The results show that even in the presence of atomically structured grain boundary cores with widths of less than 1 nm, optical properties have to be represented with gradual changes across the grain boundary structures to quantitatively reproduce accurate van der Waals–London dispersion interactions. London dispersion energies of the order of 10% of the apparent interface energies of SrTiO3 were observed, demonstrating their significance in the grain boundary formation process. The application of different models to represent optical property gradients shows that long-range van der Waals–London dispersion interactions scale significantly with local, i.e., atomic length scale property variations.
Date Posted: 07 July 2011
This document has been peer reviewed.