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Electron-hole pair excitation determines the mechanism of hydrogen atom adsorption.

MPS-Authors
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Bünermann,  O.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Jiang,  H.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Dorenkamp,  Y.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Kandratsenka,  A.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Janke,  S. M.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Auerbach,  D. J.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Wodtke,  A. M.
Department of Dynamics at Surfaces, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Bünermann, O., Jiang, H., Dorenkamp, Y., Kandratsenka, A., Janke, S. M., Auerbach, D. J., et al. (2015). Electron-hole pair excitation determines the mechanism of hydrogen atom adsorption. Science, 350(6266), 1346-1349. doi:10.1126/science.aad4972.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-1DBF-A
Abstract
How much translational energy atoms and molecules lose in collisions at surfaces determines whether they adsorb or scatter. The fact that hydrogen (H) atoms stick to metal surfaces poses a basic question. Momentum and energy conservation demands that the light H atom cannot efficiently transfer its energy to the heavier atoms of the solid in a binary collision. How then do H atoms efficiently stick to metal surfaces? We show through experiments that H-atom collisions at an insulating surface (an adsorbed xenon layer on a gold single-crystal surface) are indeed nearly elastic, following the predictions of energy and momentum conservation. In contrast, H-atom collisions with the bare gold surface exhibit a large loss of translational energy that can be reproduced by an atomic-level simulation describing electron-hole pair excitation.