Anatase TiO2 single crystals with a large percentage of reactive facets

Nature. 2008 May 29;453(7195):638-41. doi: 10.1038/nature06964.


Owing to their scientific and technological importance, inorganic single crystals with highly reactive surfaces have long been studied. Unfortunately, surfaces with high reactivity usually diminish rapidly during the crystal growth process as a result of the minimization of surface energy. A typical example is titanium dioxide (TiO2), which has promising energy and environmental applications. Most available anatase TiO(2) crystals are dominated by the thermodynamically stable {101} facets (more than 94 per cent, according to the Wulff construction), rather than the much more reactive {001} facets. Here we demonstrate that for fluorine-terminated surfaces this relative stability is reversed: {001} is energetically preferable to {101}. We explored this effect systematically for a range of non-metallic adsorbate atoms by first-principle quantum chemical calculations. On the basis of theoretical predictions, we have synthesized uniform anatase TiO(2) single crystals with a high percentage (47 per cent) of {001} facets using hydrofluoric acid as a morphology controlling agent. Moreover, the fluorated surface of anatase single crystals can easily be cleaned using heat treatment to render a fluorine-free surface without altering the crystal structure and morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallization
  • Hot Temperature
  • Hydrofluoric Acid / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Quantum Theory
  • Thermodynamics
  • Titanium / chemistry*


  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium
  • Hydrofluoric Acid