Unraveling the basic steps of surface chemistry with lasers and molecular beams
Understanding the atomic scale motion of chemical reactions occurring on metal surfaces has become an important topic of research, one that is motivated by its technological implications for heterogeneous catalysis. The importance of heterogeneous catalysis for humankind can hardly be overestimated. Its application range from pollution abatement to food industry. Unfortunately, even today, in most cases we are lacking detailed molecular level understanding of these processes. Studies carried out under ultra-high vacuum conditions, with clean surfaces and with molecules in well-defined internal state distributions provide a wealth of information based on which a detailed microscopic view of the process can be constructed. In my talk I will refer to recent studies of diatomics collisions with single crystal coinage metals studied by combination of molecular beams and laser spectroscopy, exemplifying how detailed studies of vibrational energy transfer, rotational and translational inelasticity can provide detailed insights into the dynamics of gas surface encounters. I will also cover another aspect of our work aiming towards gas-phase fabrication (chemical vapor deposition and flame assisted synthesis) of model functional surfaces and expanding the studies of gas surface interactions beyond single crystals to complex model catalysts.