How is the density of the first few atomic layers of a metal compared to the bulk material?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why does the lack of neighbours change their position? Density is how many atoms (how much mass) you have per volume. $\endgroup$
    – Steeven
    Feb 28, 2017 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ the positions will definitely change since the surface-atoms will try to compensate for their unsaturated bonds (their potential energy will be quite different). I'm not sure in wich way this happens though... $\endgroup$
    – OD IUM
    Feb 28, 2017 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking about atomic density or overall material density? $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Feb 28, 2017 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ where's the difference? mass density is popto atomic density $\endgroup$
    – OD IUM
    Feb 28, 2017 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ Macroscopic effects are different than microscopic. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Feb 28, 2017 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


Well, it seems this can not be answered in general since there are a bunch of different things which can happen, these are just some of them:

a) deformation, b) and c)superstructure formation, d)facette layers  e)incomplete layer

a) deformation, b) and c)superstructure formation, d)facette layers e)incomplete layer It seems to be not that easy at all (source=enter link description here:

"The physical basis of the model is the Smoluchowski smoothing of the electron charge density at the surface. When a crystal is cut to form a surface, the electrons rearrange in order to reduce the charge-density corrugations and by this way their kinetic energy. This leads to a motion of the electrons left on top of the surface atoms downward to the crystal resulting in an electrostatic attraction of the top layer ions toward the rest of the crystal ....

he model as outlined above, however, is not as general as one might be lead to expect,and not as widely applicable as it is often said to be. In particular the closest packed hexagonal surfaces of the fcc and hcp metals often undergo an “anomalous” expansion of the first to second layer distance relative to the bulk interlayer spacing"

enter image description here

And some measured/caluclated (DFT) values for interlayer spacings: enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ While those are some of the things that happen, this does not answer the question on how the near-surface density changes. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 28, 2017 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ The edit makes it a nice answer. Good job. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 28, 2017 at 14:54

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