Atom-surface van der Waals potentials of topological insulators and semimetals from scattering measurements

Anton Tamtögl*, Adrian Ruckhofer, Davide Campi, William Allison, Wolfgang E Ernst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The phenomenology of resonant scattering has been known since the earliest experiments upon scattering of atomic beams from surfaces and is a means of obtaining experimental information about the fundamentals of weak adsorption systems in the van der Waals regime. We provide an overview of the experimental approach based on new experimental data for the He-Sb 2Te 3(111) system, followed by a comparative overview and perspective of recent results for topological semimetal and insulator surfaces. Moreover, we shortly discuss the perspectives of calculating helium-surface interaction potentials fromab initiocalculations. Our perspective demonstrates that atom-surface scattering provides direct experimental information about the atom-surface interaction in the weak physisorption regime and can also be used to determine the lifetime and mean free path of the trapped atom. We further discuss the effects of elastic and inelastic scattering on the linewidth and lifetime of the trapped He atom with an outlook on future developments and applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7637–7652
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Chemistry, Chemical Physics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2021


  • Surface analysis
  • Atom-surface interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science


  • NAWI Graz


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