First observation made of quantum-tunneling diffusion of hydrogen atoms on ice

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 08:50 in Physics & Chemistry

(—As long as the temperature is above absolute zero, gas molecules are always in constant random motion. They may diffuse—or spread out—through three-dimensional space or, in a process called "surface diffusion," along the two-dimensional surface of a solid. The most well-known mechanism to explain surface diffusion is a classical mechanism called thermal hopping, in which gas molecules jump from one adsorption site (the place where the gas molecules attach to the surface) to another at a temperature-dependent rate. So far, thermal hopping is the only mechanism known to explain the surface diffusion of hydrogen atoms on the surface of ice.

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