Material properties particularly suited to be measured with helium scattering: selected examples from 2D materials, van der Waals heterostructures, glassy materials, catalytic substrates, topological insulators and superconducting radio frequency materials

Bodil Holst*, Gil Alexandrowicz, Nadav Avidor, Giorgio Benedek, Gianangelo Bracco, Wolfgang E. Ernst, Daniel Farías, Andrew P. Jardine, Kim Lefmann, Joseph R. Manson, Roberto Marquardt, Salvador Miret Artés, Steven J. Sibener, Justin W. Wells, Anton Tamtögl, William Allison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Helium Atom Scattering (HAS) and Helium Spin-Echo scattering (HeSE), together helium scattering, are well established, but non-commercial surface science techniques. They are characterised by the beam inertness and very low beam energy (<0.1 eV) which allows essentially all materials and adsorbates, including fragile and/or insulating materials and light adsorbates such as hydrogen to be investigated on the atomic scale. At present there only exist an estimated less than 15 helium and helium spin-echo scattering instruments in total, spread across the world. This means that up till now the techniques have not been readily available for a broad scientific community. Efforts are ongoing to change this by establishing a central helium scattering facility, possibly in connection with a neutron or synchrotron facility. In this context it is important to clarify what information can be obtained from helium scattering that cannot be obtained with other surface science techniques. Here we present a non-exclusive overview of a range of material properties particularly suited to be measured with helium scattering: (i) high precision, direct measurements of bending rigidity and substrate coupling strength of a range of 2D materials and van der Waals heterostructures as a function of temperature, (ii) direct measurements of the electron-phonon coupling constantλexclusively in the low energy range (<0.1 eV, tuneable) for 2D materials and van der Waals heterostructures (iii) direct measurements of the surface boson peak in glassy materials, (iv) aspects of polymer chain surface dynamics under nano-confinement (v) certain aspects of nanoscale surface topography, (vi) central properties of surface dynamics and surface diffusion of adsorbates (HeSE) and (vii) two specific science case examples - topological insulators and superconducting radio frequency materials, illustrating how combined HAS and HeSE are necessary to understand the properties of quantum materials. The paper finishes with (viii) examples of molecular surface scattering experiments and other atom surface scattering experiments which can be performed using HAS and HeSE instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7653-7672
Number of pages20
JournalPhysical Chemistry, Chemical Physics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science


  • NAWI Graz

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