Chemistry and physics of mineral surfaces and interfaces are pivotal in understanding the many processes occurring in the extremely diverse domains in which mineral matter is encountered, such as geochemistry of soils and aquifers (Morse and Arvidson 2002), interaction with microbial organisms (Brown et al. 1999), catalysis (Corma 1995) and nanotechnology (Fu and Wagner 2007). The study of mineral surfaces as archetypes of surfaces of insulators mostly started twenty years ago, which is rather recent with respect to the general evolution of surface science. The likely origin of such delay, surprising given...

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