Main content area

Water Molecular Beam Scattering at α-Al2O3(0001): An Ab Initio Molecular Dynamics Study C

Heiden, Sophia, Wirth, Jonas, Campen, R. Kramer, Saalfrank, Peter
Journal of physical chemistry 2018 v.122 no.27 pp. 15494-15504
adsorption, aluminum oxide, dissociation, energy, gases, models, molecular dynamics, probability
Recent molecular beam experiments have shown that water may adsorb molecularly or dissociatively on an α-Al₂O₃(0001) surface, with enhanced dissociation probability compared to “pinhole dosing”, i.e., adsorption under thermal equilibrium conditions. However, precise information on the ongoing reactions and their relative probabilities is missing. In order to shed light on molecular beam scattering for this system, we perform ab initio molecular dynamics calculations to simulate water colliding with α-Al₂O₃(0001). We find that single water molecules hitting a cold, clean surface from the gas phase are either reflected, molecularly adsorbed, or dissociated (so-called 1–2 dissociation only). A certain minimum translational energy (above 0.1 eV) seems to be required to enforce dissociation, which may explain the higher dissociation probability in molecular beam experiments. When the surface is heated and/or when refined surface and beam models are applied (preadsorption with water or water fragments, clustering and internal preexcitation in the beam), additional channels open, among them physisorption, water clustering on the surface, and so-called 1–4 and 1–4′ dissociation.