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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Jan 27;96(3):036805. Epub 2006 Jan 27.

Surface reactivity and quantum-size effects on the electronic density decay length of ultrathin metal films.

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  • 1The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste 34014 , Italy.


The origin of the correlation between surface reactivity and quantum-size effects, observed in recent experiments on the oxidation of ultrathin magnesium films, is addressed by means of ab initio calculations and model predictions. We show that the decay length in vacuum of the electronic local density of states at the Fermi energy exhibits systematic oscillations with film thickness, with local maxima induced when a quantum-well state at crosses the Fermi energy. The predicted changes in the decay length are expected to have a major impact on the electron transfer rate by tunneling, which has been proposed to control the initial sticking of in the oxidation process.

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