X-ray scattering: Liquid metal/vapor interfaces

  • P. S. Pershan


We will review the principal x-ray scattering measurements that have been carried out on the free surface of liquid metals over the past two decades. For metals such as K, Ga, In Sn, Bi etc the surface induces well-defined layering with atomic spacing ‘d’ that penetrates into the bulk a distance of the order of the bulk liquid correlation length. As a consequence the angular dependence of the surface structure factor observed by x-ray reflectivity displays a broad peak at wavevector transfer ∼ 2π/d with a half width that is comparable to the width of the bulk liquid structure factor. Quantitative measurement of this surface structure factor requires correction for a singular Debye-Waller like effect arising from thermally excited capillary waves. For liquid metal alloys the layering is accompanied by chemical segregation (i.e. Gibbs absorption) that can be characterized from the energy dependence of the reflectivity. Particularly interesting are the temperature dependence and elasticity of the two-dimensional surface frozen phases that form on the surface of the Au82Si18 liquid eutectic. Surface freezing, although not observed near the eutectic points of alloys such as Au-Ge, Pd-Ge and Pd-Si, has been observed at the free surface of the glass forming alloy Au49Ag5.5Pd2.3Cu26.9Si16.3.


European Physical Journal Special Topic Coexistence Line Surface Freezing Liquid Metal Surface Liquid Metal Alloy 
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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. S. Pershan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Physics DepartmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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