Progress in the measurement and modeling of adsorbed layers

L.W. Bruch, R.D. Diehl and J.A. Venables
Rev. Mod. Phys. 79 (2007) 1381-1454


This review describes progress in the field of physisorption. Significant advances in the knowledge of microscopic structures and interactions of weakly bound adsorbates are reviewed, including the first studies for the adsorption sites of rare gases on flat metal surfaces and at surface steps, the structures of higher-order commensurate solids, collective excitations in rare-gas monolayers, molecular orientations and growth processes in alkane films, and adsorbate diffusion. The development and improvement of experimental techniques are reviewed, including high-resolution thermal desorption spectroscopy and ellipsometry for studying thermodynamics; low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy, very low current electron diffraction, and surface x-ray diffraction for studying structures; inelastic atom scattering for studying collective excitations; quasielastic helium atom and neutron scattering and laser techniques for studying diffusion; and the quartz crystal microbalance for studying interfacial friction. The present state of knowledge of the physical adsorption potentials and the role of the van der Waals interaction are discussed in the context of the widespread use of density-functional theory. Experimental and theoretical results for many adsorption systems are described and tabulated; a few case studies are presented in which a unified picture has (nearly) been achieved by the synthesis of many contributions. Some new applications of physisorption are also presented.

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Latest version of this document: 22nd February 2010.