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Experimental determination of the helium-metal interaction potential by interferometry of nanostructured surfaces

American Physical Society
Publication Date
  • Qc Physics


We present a direct experimental comparison of the helium-surface interaction potential for two unreconstructed metal surfaces. We analyze phase shifts in helium atom scattering from a nanostructured bimetallic surface to yield the relative shape and position of an adsorbate's potential with respect to the reference defined by the substrate. In our prototype system, submonolayer growth of Ni on Cu(100), the He-Ni/Cu(100) potential has an attractive well that is 1.6±0.4 meV shallower, and a repulsive wall 0.11±0.03 Å closer to the ion cores, compared to the He-Cu(100) potential. Our observations provide a ready test of state-of-the-art theoretical calculations.

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