I've been reading about surface reconstruction in condensed matter physics, and it got me wondering. Is there any way to assign a time scale to this phenomenon?
For example, suppose we were to take a slab of pure silicon and cleave it, as described in the Wikipedia article, along the (100) surface. The atoms on the new surface are going to relax to a new optimal configuration and form dimers. Is there a way to estimate how long it's going to take them to relax? Since the difference in energy between the two structures is large, does it happen basically as we're cleaving them, as the edge of the cutting surface is moving along them?