Changes in chemical oxidation states in alloys and at solid-solid interfaces were monitored by using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. For an oxidized Nichrome surface, the chromium component was selectively converted to chromic oxide while nickel remained in the metallic state. When this surface was overlaid with a 20-angstrom-thick aluminum film, the chromic oxide was reduced to chromium and the aluminum was oxidized to aluminum oxide in a reaction zone consisting of no more than 10 angstroms of the interface. This scheme appeared general for solid-solid contacts and was predicted, to a first approximation, by bulk thermodynamic free energies.
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