Surfaces are the doors of condensed matter to interact with the external world. Any probe used to test or investigate a system must necessarily traverse the surface. Surfaces are a source of complexity and hence inherently carry the potential for various functionalities. For nanosystems, surface properties are often dominant over bulk properties, due to their large surface-to-volume ratio. Therefore, understanding surfaces and surface processes is indispensible in our attempts to master highly important and omnipresent fields as catalysis or nanotechnology.
In this course, we will explore some of the characteristics and complexities of surfaces and surface processes. Topics that will be covered include
- the atomic and electronic structure of surfaces, which is key to, e.g., understanding the interaction between the surface and adsorbing molecules;
- chemisorption at the molecular level, which is key to understanding surface chemistry;
- reactivity theory, which is key to understanding kinetics
- theoretical aspects of real life surface processes, including the importance of nanoscale thermodynamics and the importance of special sites at nanocatalyst surfaces;