Surface Dynamics: Beyond the Born-Oppenheimer Static Surface Approximation

October 24, 2012 to October 26, 2012
Location : University of Zaragoza, Spain


  • Cristina Díaz (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain)
  • Manuel Alcamí (Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain)
  • Sergio Diaz-Tendero (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain)
  • Maite Alducin (CSIC-UPV Materials Physics Center and DIPC, San Sebastián, Spain)
  • Roar A. Olsen (SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, Oslo, Norway)




A very brief introduction to surface science

In everyday life the only part of materials we can see are their surfaces, and most of us regularly come across phenomena belonging to the interesting field of surface science. Who has not felt the passing of time with the first signs of rust showing up on one's bicycle, motorbike, car, garden fence or favorite garden tool? Or when an anniversary or a Christmas dinner means it is again time to polish the silverware? Every day when we turn on our radios, televisions or blu-ray players we rely on the latest advances within the semiconductor industry where knowledge about surfaces is important. Understanding the electrical properties of micro electronic devices inside our computers or portable telephones also requires knowledge about surfaces. Reaction of gas- or liquid-phase molecules with metal surfaces are of tremendous practical importance, because the production of most synthetic compounds involves heterogeneous catalysis in such conditions. One of the achievements recognized by the 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to G. Ertl, was the detailed description of the sequence of elementary molecule-surface reactions by which vast quantities of ammonia are produced for fertilizer.

Thus, there are ample reasons for seeking answers to how molecules and atoms interact with surfaces. Improving our understanding of these fundamental processes has important technological and economical implications, but this field of research also serves as a playing ground for curious scientists seeking to test different levels of theory and refining the experimental techniques.

The scope and objective of the workshop

Up until today most theoretical modeling efforts considering various gas/surface dynamical processes have employed a combination of the Born-Oppenheimer and the static surface approximations. However, this approach has fallen under scrutiny because recent experiments have found electrons ejected into the vacuum upon scattering of molecules from metal surfaces. Experimentalists have also measured chemi-currents as a result of atoms colliding with surfaces. Both are strong evidence for the existence of so-called non-adiabatic effects, i.e., the breakdown of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation. There is also mounting evidence that the motion of the surface atoms in several cases influences certain aspects of reactions even when the molecule hitting the surface is very light (like e.g. H2).

The focus of the workshop will therefore be on (dynamical) processes related to electronic and/or phonon excited states for molecules and atoms interacting with surfaces, such as, dissociative adsorption, molecular desorption and scattering involving electron excitation and/or lattice motion. In addition to presenting scientific talks covering today’s relevant state-of-the-art, one other objective of this workshop is to serve as a meeting point for theoretical and experimental scientists working or having an interest in this field. We expect to have about 40 participants and the goal is to attract scientist from a broad range of fields to facilitate future multidisciplinary collaborations. There will also be a number of “hot-topic” talks selected from submitted abstracts, with a bias towards young researchers in the field. Submitted abstracts not selected for presentations as “hot-topic” talks will be presented in the two poster sessions. Note that a large percentage of the talks will be given by experimentalists, the idea being that this will ensure that future theoretical efforts are pushed towards systems of the highest fundamental and technological interest.

Application details and deadlines

As the workshop is limited to about 40 people, applications will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis. Please, follow the instructions under the 'Apply' link to contact the workshop organizers.

The abstract submission deadline for contributions to be considered as a hot topic presentation is July 20th, 2012. The applying authors will be notified about the final selection shortly after this deadline. The workshop sponsors will cover the accommodations expenses of the selected 'hot topic' presenters at the hotel arranged by the organizers.

The abstract submission deadline for a poster presentation is September 24th, 2012. We encourage you to apply early as admission will be closed once the workshop becomes oversubscribed. Special hotel rates (66 € per night) will apply to participants at the hotel arranged by the organizers, hotel Palafox (