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Energy dissipation during diffusion at metal surfaces: Disentangling the role of phonons versus electron-hole pairs

Phys. Rev. Letts 117 (2016) 196001
Rittmeyer S.P., Ward D.J., G├╝tlein P., Ellis J., Allison W. and Reuter K.


Helium spin echo experiments combined with ab initio based Langevin molecular dynamics simulations are used to quantify the adsorbate-substrate coupling during the thermal diffusion of Na atoms on Cu(111). An analysis of trajectories within the local density friction approximation allows the contribution from electron-hole pair excitations to be separated from the total energy dissipation. Despite the minimal electronic friction coefficient of Na and the relatively small mass mismatch to Cu promoting efficient phononic dissipation, about (20 +/- 5)% of the total energy loss is attributable to electronic friction. The results suggest a significant role of electronic nonadiabaticity in the rapid thermalization generally relied upon in adiabatic diffusion theories.

The full text of this article may be found at: Phys. Rev. Letts 117 (2016) 196001

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