We present a versatile system for the preparation of oxide crystal surfaces in the ultra-high vacuum (UHV) at temperatures up to 1300 K. Thermal treatment is accomplished by direct current heating of a tantalum foil in contact with the oxide sample. The sample temperature is measured by a thermocouple at a position close to the crystal and its reading is calibrated against the surface temperature determined by a second thermocouple temporarily attached to the surface. The design of the sample holder is based on a transferable plate originally developed for a commercial UHV scanning probe microscope. The system is, however, also suitable for the use with electron spectroscopy or electron diffraction based surface analytical techniques. We present results for the high-temperature preparation of CeO(2)(111) surfaces with atomically flat terraces exhibiting perfect atomic order and cleanliness as revealed by non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) imaging. NC-AFM imaging is, furthermore, used to demonstrate the temperature-controlled aggregation of gold atoms on the CeO(2)(111) surface and their evaporation at high temperatures.
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