Impact of long-range attraction on desorption kinetics

Florian Schneider*, Lukas Höltkemeier, Andrea Floris, Lev Kantorovich, Ralf Bechstein, Angelika Kühnle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Desorption of molecules from surfaces is widespread both in nature and technology. Despite its omnipresence and conceptual simplicity, fundamental details can be surprisingly complex and are often poorly understood. In many cases, first-order kinetics is assumed, which implies that the adsorbates do not interact with each other and desorption is the rate-limiting process. While this might be a good approximation in some cases, it is far from reality in the case of adsorbates that form ordered structures. Here, we study the desorption of a submonolayer film of 3-nitrophenol from the natural cleavage plane of calcite kept in ultrahigh vacuum. Interestingly, two distinctly different desorption regimes are observed during isothermal desorption monitored by dynamic atomic force microscopy. Initially, at high coverages, the coverage decreases almost linearly in time, indicating a constant desorption rate. Beyond this linear regime, at low coverages, a drastic increase in desorption rate is observed until the surface is completely empty. The transition between these two regimes is associated with a critical island width. We propose an existence of a long-range attractive interaction between the molecules as a possible explanation for the sudden increase in the desorption rate when a critical island width is reached. The herein observed phenomenon of two different desorption regimes is expected to be of general nature when interactions beyond next-neighbour attraction are present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12282-12288
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2024


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