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Journal Article

Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy: A new tool for surface science and nanotechnology


Schlögl,  Robert
Inorganic Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Salmeron, M., & Schlögl, R. (2008). Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy: A new tool for surface science and nanotechnology. Surface Science Reports, 63(4), 169-199. doi:10.1016/j.surfrep.2008.01.001.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-FCFC-3
Progress in science often follows or parallels the development of new techniques. The optical microscope helped convert medicine and biology from a speculative activity in old times to today’s sophisticated scientific dis-ciplines. The telescope changed the study and interpretation of heavens from mythology to science. X-ray diffrac-tion enabled the flourishing of solid state physics and materials science. The technique object of this review, Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy or APPES for short, has also the potential of producing dramatic changes in the study of liquid and solid surfaces, particularly in areas such as atmospheric, environment and cataly-sis sciences. APPES adds an important missing element to the host of techniques that give fundamental information, i.e., spectroscopy and microscopy, about surfaces in the presence of gases and vapors, as encountered in industrial catalysis and atmospheric environments. APPES brings electron spectroscopy into the realm of techniques that can be used in practical environments. Decades of surface science in ultra high vacuum (UHV) has shown the power of electron spectroscopy in its various manifestations. Their unique property is the extremely short elastic mean free path of electrons as they travel through condensed matter, of the order of a few atomic distances in the energy range from a few eV to a few thousand eV. As a consequence of this the information obtained by analyzing electrons emit-ted or scattered from a surface refers to the top first few atomic layers, which is what surface science is all about. Low energy electron diffraction (LEED), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS), and other such techniques have been used for decades and provided some of the most fundamental knowledge about surface crystallography, composition and electronic struc-ture available today. Unfortunately the high interaction cross section of electrons with matter also prevents them from traveling long distances unscattered in gas environments. Above the millibar pressure range this distance is reduced to less that a millimeter, effectively preventing its use in the most relevant environments, usually between millibars and atmospheric pressures. There is therefore a large gap of several orders of magnitude where information about surfaces is scarce because these powerful electron spectroscopies cannot operate.