Electron- and Photon-Stimulated Desorption: Probes of Structure and Bonding at Surfaces

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Science  17 Oct 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4774, pp. 316-322
DOI: 10.1126/science.234.4774.316


Techniques for analyzing the structure and composition of solid surfaces with electron and photon beams often cause radiation damage in samples. Damage-producing processes compete with information-producing events during measurements, and beam damage can be a serious perturbation in quantitative surface analysis. There are, however, substantial benefits of electron- and photonstimulated damage processes for studying molecules adsorbed on surfaces. Direct information about the geometric structure of surface molecules can be obtained from measurements of the angular distributions of ions released by electron- or photon-stimulated desorption. The directions of ion emission are determined by the orientation of the surface bonds that are ruptured by beam irradiation. Moreover, photon-stimulated desorption studies that make use of synchrotron radiation reveal the fundamental electronic excitations that lead to bondbreaking processes at surfaces. These measurements provide new insights into radiation-damage processes in areas as diverse as x-ray optics and semiconductor electronics.