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Resonance interaction induced by metal surfaces catalyzes atom-pair breakage


M. Boström, C. Persson, B. W. Ninham, P. Norman, and Bo E. Sernelius

PRA 87 044701 (2013)

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.87.044701

We present the theory for retarded resonance interaction between two identical atoms at arbitrary positions near a metal surface. The dipole-dipole resonance interaction force that binds isotropically excited atom pairs together in free space may turn repulsive close to an ideal (totally reflecting) metal surface. On the other hand, close to an infinitely permeable surface it may turn more attractive. We illustrate numerically how the dipole-dipole resonance interaction between two oxygen atoms near a metal surface may provide a repulsive energy of the same order of magnitude as the ground-state binding energy of an oxygen molecule. As a complement we also present results from density-functional theory.

Fig. The resonance interaction energy between two oxygen atoms situated one outside the other near an ideal metal surface. The closest atom is at 1 Å from the surface. For comparison we have added a curve (DFT curve) showing the potential for two oxygen atoms at an Au(111) surface as obtained from a DFT calculation, including a van der Waals functional.

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Last updated: 04/09/13