Two recent papers by Pitt physicist offer a deeper understanding of how electrons behave on surfaces, with applications in electronics and energy
Hrvoje Petek, University of Pittsburgh professor of physics and codirector of Pitts Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering (PINSE), has published two papers in recent weeks that literally illuminate how electrons behave on various surfaces.
In the first paper, Petek and Miroslav Nyvlt of Charles University in Prague explored the properties of metals under intense light--a situation "where the classical physics of electron emission from metals emerges from its quantum roots," says Petek. They found that when light of a certain energy and intensity is shone onto a metal surface, a few electrons in the metal become stuck on the surface (that is, they are neither emitted from nor reabsorbed into the metal). As Petek puts it, the electrons are "in limbo."
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