The vibrational spectra of linear alkanes, with lengths ranging from n -propane to n -octane, were examined on a copper surface by reflection- absorption infrared spectroscopy. The appearance and frequency of the "soft mode," a feature routinely seen in studies of saturated hydrocarbons adsorbed on metals, were examined and compared between the different adsorbates. The frequency of the mode was found to be dependent on both the number of methylene units of each alkane as well as specific aspects of the order of the monolayer phase. Studies of monolayer coverages at different temperatures provide insights into the nature of the two-dimensional (2D) melting transitions of these adlayer structures, ones that can be inferred from observed shifts in the soft vibrational modes appearing in the C-H stretching region of the infrared spectrum. These studies support recently reported hypotheses as to the origins of such soft modes: the metal-hydrogen interactions that mediate them and the dynamics that underlay their pronounced temperature dependencies. The present data strongly support a model for the 2D to one-dimensional order-order phase transition arising via a continuous rather than discrete first-order process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry