Surface Science

X-ray study of molecular oxygen adsorbed on graphite

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We have performed a detailed X-ray diffraction study of O2 adsorbed on UCAR-ZYX and Le Carbon Lorraine vermicular exfoliated graphite between 15 and 50 K. At least four phases of physisorbed oxygen are found. The monolayer δ phase consists of a centered parallelogram lattice, with the molecular axes parallel to the graphite surface. The data are consistent with a triple point at 26 K. The melting transition at a coverage of one monolayer appears to be first order. At higher coverages the molecules undergo a lying-down to standing-up transition; the higher coverage ζ phase froms an approximately triangular lattice with the molecular axes perpendicular to the graphite surface. Satellite peaks around the (1, 0) Bragg peak indicate, however, that this cannot be a simple triangular lattice; possible explanations include successively incommensurate layers or a sinusoidal density modulation. For coverages in the two-layer region the ζ phase modulation peaks disappear at 37 K, and at 40 K the adsorbed oxygen appears to undergo a first order melting transition into a fluid phase. With increasing coverage, the 2D X-ray diffraction profiles and phase boundaries do not connect smoothly onto those of the 3D α and β phases. At low temperatures (T < 30 K) the ζ phase always coexists with bulk crystallites; for temperatures near the 2D melting transition the 3D peaks are not observable. These data, taken together with the heat capacity results, suggest a wetting transition with only the bilayer lamellar phase or bulk O2 being stable at low temperatures. © 1983.