More Than Skin Deep

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Science  05 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5331, pp. 1447-1448
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5331.1447

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Electrons normally stay close to surfaces of metals and have a lot to do with what kinds of chemistry can take place on surfaces. In his Perspective, Plummer discusses results published in the same issue by Höfer et al. in which the technique of coherent laser excitation was used to put surface electrons into high-lying "Rydberg" states. The behavior of the excited electrons was then mapped out with angle-resolved photoemission. Knowledge of the time evolution of surface states may help with detailed studies of surface dynamics and chemical reactions.