Temperature- and potential-dependent structure of the mercury-electrolyte interface

Benjamin Runge, Sven Festersen, Christian T. Koops, Annika Elsen, Moshe Deutsch, Benjamin M. Ocko, Oliver H. Seeck, Bridget M. Murphy, Olaf M. Magnussen

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The atomic-scale structure of the mercury-electrolyte (0.01 M NaF) interface was studied as a function of temperature and potential by x-ray reflectivity and x-ray diffuse scattering measurements. The capillary wave contribution is determined and removed from the data, giving access to the intrinsic surface-normal electron density profile at the interface, especially to the surface layering in the Hg phase. A temperature dependent roughness anomaly known from the Hg-air interface is found to persist also at the Hg-electrolyte interface. Additionally, a temperature dependence of the layering period was discovered. The increase in the layer spacing with increasing temperature is approximately four times lager than the increase expected from thermal expansion. Finally, the interface is found to broaden towards the electrolyte side as the potential becomes more negative, in agreement with the Schmickler-Henderson theory. Our results favor a model for the interface structure, which is different to the model formerly used in comparable studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165408
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number16
StatePublished - 7 Apr 2016

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© 2016 American Physical Society.


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