Atomic-Scale Dynamics of a Two-Dimensional Gas-Solid Interface

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  07 Oct 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5182, pp. 99-102
DOI: 10.1126/science.266.5182.99


The interface between a two-dimensional (2D) molecular gas and a 2D molecular solid has been imaged with a low-temperature, ultrahigh-vacuum scanning tunneling microscope. The solid consists of benzene molecules strongly bound to step edges on a Cu{111} surface. Benzene molecules on the Cu{111} terraces move freely as a 2D gas at 77 kelvin. Benzene molecules transiently occupy well-defined adsorption sites at the 1D edge of the 2D solid. Diffusion of molecules between these sites and exchange between the two phases at the interface are observed. On raised terraces of the copper surface, the 2D gas is held in a cage of the solid as in a 2D nanometer-scale gas bulb.