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Oxidation of silver films of one- and two-monolayer thicknesses on the Ni(111) surface was investigated by low-energy electron microscopy at temperatures of 500 and 600 K. Additionally, intensity–voltage curves were measured in situ during oxidation to reveal the local film structure on a nanometer scale. At both temperatures, we find that exposure to molecular oxygen leads to the destabilization of the Ag film with subsequent relocation of the silver atoms to small few-layer-thick silver patches and concurrent evolution of NiO(111) regions. Subsequent exposure of the oxidized surface to ethylene initiates the transformation of bilayer islands back into monolayer islands, demonstrating at least partial reversibility of the silver relocation process at 600 K.
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