Probing the non-pairwise interactions between CO molecules moving on a Cu(111) surface

Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, J J Thomson Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 0HE, UK.
Journal of Physics Condensed Matter (Impact Factor: 2.35). 03/2012; 24(10):104016. DOI: 10.1088/0953-8984/24/10/104016
Source: PubMed


The coverage dependent dynamics of CO on a Cu(111) surface are studied on an atomic scale using helium spin-echo spectroscopy. CO molecules occupy top sites preferentially, but also visit intermediate bridge sites in their motion along the reaction coordinate. We observe an increase in hopping rate as the CO coverage grows; however, the motion remains uncorrelated up to at least 0.10 monolayers (ML). From the temperature dependence of the diffusion rate, we find an effective barrier of 98 ± 5 meV for diffusion. Thermal motion is modelled with Langevin molecular dynamics, using a potential energy surface having adsorption sites at top and bridge positions and the experimental data are well represented by an adiabatic barrier for hopping of 123 meV. The sites are not degenerate and the rate changes observed with coverage are modelled successfully by changing the shape of the adiabatic potential energy surface in the region of the transition state without modifying the energy barrier. The results demonstrate that sufficient detail exists in the experimental data to provide information on the principal adsorption sites as well as the energy landscape in the region of the transition state.

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