Structure of interfacial liquids: X-ray scattering studies

C. J. Yu*, A. G. Richter, J. Kmetko, S. W. Dugan, A. Datta, P. Dutta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We have used synchrotron x rays to study three different liquids near solid-liquid interfaces. For either ultrathin (45-90 Å) or thick (∼5000 Å) liquid films on silicon substrates, we find (on the basis of diffraction peaks or specular reflectivity data) that the molecules form 3-6 layers at the interface, with plane spacings close to the molecular dimensions. Rough surfaces and/or impurities reduce the density oscillation amplitudes. Making the liquid film very thin does not observably enhance the effect, which implies that layering is present even at an isolated interface (i.e., in a semi-infinite liquid). On the other hand, predeposited impurities diffuse away from the interface more easily if the liquid films are thick. The liquids studied are nonconducting, nonpolar, and nonreactive; the molecules are roughly spherical; and our substrate surface has no lateral structure. Thus our observations should apply to any liquid near a hard wall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021205
Pages (from-to)212051-212058
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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