Ab initio study of intrinsic profiles of liquid metals and their reflectivity
1 Departamento de Física Teórica, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain
2 Departamento de Física de Partículas, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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Published online: 21 August 2017
The free surfaces of liquid metals are known to exhibit a stratified profile that, in favourable cases, shows up in experiments as a peak in the ratio between the reflectivity function and that of an ideal step-like profile. This peak is located at a wave-vector related to the distance between the layers of the profile. In fact the surface roughness produced by thermally induced capillary waves causes a depletion of the previous so called intrinsic reflectivity by a damping factor that may hinder the observation of the peak. The behaviour of the intrinsic reflectivity below the layering peak is however far from being universal, with systems as Ga or In where the reflectiviy falls uniformly towards the q → 0 value, others like Sn or Bi where a shoulder appears at intermediate wavevectors, and others like Hg which show a minimum. We have performed extensive ab initio simulations of the free liquid surfaces of Bi, Pb and Hg, that yield direct information on the structure of the profiles and found that the macroscopic capillary wave theory usually employed in order to remove the capillary wave components fails badly in some cases for the typical sample sizes affordable in ab initio simulations. However, a microscopic method for the determination of the intrinsic profile is shown to be succesful in obtaining meaningful intrinsic profiles and corresponding reflectivities which reproduce correctly the qualitative behaviour observed experimentally.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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