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Imaging covalent bond formation by H atom scattering from graphene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Hongyan Jiang
  • Marvin Kammler
  • Feizhi Ding
  • Yvonne Dorenkamp
  • Frederick R. Manby
  • Alec. M. Wodtke
  • Thomas F. Miller
  • Alexander Kandratsenka
  • Oliver Bünermann
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-382
Number of pages14
Issue number6438
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - 26 Apr 2019


Viewing the atomic-scale motion and energy dissipation pathways involved in forming a covalent bond is a longstanding challenge for chemistry. We performed scattering experiments of H atoms from graphene and observed a bimodal translational energy loss distribution. Using accurate first-principles dynamics simulations, we show that the quasi-elastic channel involves scattering through the physisorption well where collision sites are near the centers of the six-membered C-rings. The second channel results from transient C-H bond formation, where H atoms lose 1 to 2 electron volts of energy within a 10-femtosecond interaction time. This remarkably rapid form of intramolecular vibrational relaxation results from the C atom's rehybridization during bond formation and is responsible for an unexpectedly high sticking probability of H on graphene.

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