Skip to content
Research Fellows Directory

Ruth Martinez

Dr Ruth Martinez

Research Fellow


Imperial College London

Research summary

Since the first diffraction He-atom scattering experiment in 1930 by Estermann and Stern on the (100) crystal face of lithium fluoride, the scattering of He atoms from surfaces has been widely used in Solid State Physics/Chemistry to study and characterize the surface atomic structure. The success of this technique arises from its high resolution, inherent surface sensitivity and the fact that it neither charges nor damages the surfaces. Up to recently, the use of He-scattering has had an important limitation: the difficulties involved in the interpretation of the experimental patterns due to the lack of a detailed understanding of the scattering interaction potential and process . An understanding of surface structure underpins all of surface science, heterogeneous catalysis, much of nanoscience, and the technologies based on them. The quantitative analysis and correct interpretation of He-atom experiments requires the description of the physical laws governing the behaviour of electrons. This description has not been previously possible to carry out due to the limitations of the present methodology. During this year, I have been able to find a reliable description of the electron behaviour by using the CRYSCOR code. This work is completely novel and has solved the principal problem in the interpretation of the He-atom scattering patterns. In parallel with this study, new experiments are underway within the Cambridge Surface Physics Group and the Bochum Surface Physics Group. A collaboration with these groups has been initiated in order to validate this methodology and to tailor it to the most efficient extraction of surface structures from experimental spectra. There is an ever growing scientific and technological need for the accurate surface structure determination in insulating materials and it is not unrealistic to assume that the proposed work will make a major contribution to extending the use of He-atom scattering to a very wide scientific community.

Grants awarded

He-atom diffraction on metal-oxide surfaces from first-principles

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Mar 2009 - Mar 2011

Value: £100,080