Excitation and emission of metal electrons in atom-surface collisions

Zvi Kirson*, R. B. Gerber, A. Nitzan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Electron-hole pair excitation and ionization probabilities are calculated for atomic collisions with metal surfaces at high incident energies. The method adopted is based on a Sudden Collision Approximation, and a realistic model is employed for the bound and continuum electronic states involved. The parameters used in the calculations are for Ar, He, H atoms impinging on a Li surface at 300 eV. The main results are: (1) Only single electron-hole pair excitations are important; multiple pair contributions are small. (2) The transitions are dominated by the behavior of the electronic wavefunctions in the tunneling region and may serve as a probe of this regime. (3) The excitation efficiency is in the order H ≫ Ar ≫ He, the effectiveness of hydrogen being due to its stronger, longer-range coupling. (4) The maximum excitation probabilities are for electrons ejected with relatively low excess energies. (5) Total transition probabilities are about 0.5 per collision for H, and about 0.1 for Ar, indicating that these are important, easily detectable processes. Experiments in this field should provide important information on electronic wavefunctions at the metal-gas interface, and on gas-metal interactions at high energies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-296
Number of pages18
JournalSurface Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1983
Externally publishedYes


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