surface reconstruction (rus. поверхностная реконструкция) — process of modification (alteration) of the surface layer of a crystal, which results in its atomic structure differing significantly from that of the corresponding atomic planes in the crystal bulk. The term "reconstruction" is also used to describe the reconstructed surface itself.


While reconstruction is observed for a limited number of metal surfaces, it is a characteristic feature of the surfaces of most semiconductors. In the case of a semiconductor, the volume-like free surface is unstable because of a large amount of unsaturated (dangling) bonds. In order to reduce the surface free energy, the atoms are displaced from their original positions, so as to form a connection with each other, and saturate the dangling bonds. Further reduction of surface energy is enabled by charge transfer between the remaining unsaturated bonds. On the other hand, the displacement of the atoms gives rise to mechanical stresses in the lattice, which increases the surface free energy. The result of the interaction of these two tendencies defines the specific structure of the reconstructed surface. Usually, the reconstruction of the upper layer is accompanied by relaxation of the deeper layers.

Adsorption on the surface of submonolayer films often induces a change in surface reconstruction. This is a case of an adsorbate induced reconstruction. Surface reconstructions are more commonly given in Wood's notation or Matrix (or Park and Madden) Notation, which link the two-dimensional lattice of the reconstruction with the ideal lattice plane in the bulk.


  • Zotov Andrey V.
  • Saranin Alexander A.


  1. Oura K. et al. Surface Science: An Introduction // Springer, 2010 - 452 pp.