The methyl-terminated Si(111) surface possesses a 3-fold in-plane symmetry, with the methyl groups oriented perpendicular to the substrate. The propeller-like rotation of the methyl groups is hindered at room temperature and proceeds via 120° jumps between three isoenergetic minima in registry with the crystalline Si substrate. We have used line-shape analysis of polarization-selected vibrational sum frequency generation spectroscopy to determine the rotational relaxation rate of the surface methyl groups and have measured the temperature dependence of the relaxation rate between 20 and 120 °C. By fitting the measured rate to an Arrhenius dependence, we extracted an activation energy (the rotational barrier) of 830 ± 360 cm-1 and an attempt frequency of (2.9 ± 4.2) × 1013 s-1 for the methyl rotation process. Comparison with the harmonic frequency of a methyl group in a 3-fold cosine potential suggests that the hindered rotation occurs via uncorrelated jumps of single methyl groups rather than concerted gear-like rotation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry