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Equilibrium surface segregation of dissolved nonmetal atoms on iron(100) faces

Surface Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0039-6028(77)90353-3
  • Physics


Abstract At elevated temperatures equilibria of surface segregation X (dissolved) = X (adsorbed) have been studied for the nonmetal atoms X = C, N and S. Iron single crystals with (100)orientation have been doped with different concentrations of solute atoms (in the range about 10–100 wt ppm). The samples were introduced into the UHV chamber, cleaned and then heated to temperatures in the α-solid solution range. The surface concentration of the segregated nonmetal atoms was observed by AES for different bulk concentrations in dependence of the temperature. The LEED pattern was also observed during segregation equilibrium at temperatures up to about 750° C. The LEED patterns indicate a c(2 × 2) structure for carbon and nitrogen as well as for sulfur. The temperature dependence of the surface concentration for carbon on Fe(100) can be described by a Langmuir-McLean equation, an average segregation enthalpy of −85 kJ/mol°C is obtained. Since N 2 desorption occurs the nitrogen segregation is in virtual equilibrium only at temperatures <500°C. The equilibrium surface concentration of sulfur on α-iron is virtually independent of the solute concentration and the temperature: there is always a saturated layer of sulfur on the (100) faces, even at small bulk concentrations. Since the thermodynamic activity of the nonmetal atoms is well defined in the segregation studies (except nitrogen at higher temperatures) , the results can be correlated with studies in gas atmospheres at atmospheric pressure. The relations to the kinetics of the carburization and the nitrogenation of iron are discussed and the influence of sulfur on these reactions.

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