Zero point surface phonons: Effect on wetting

Milton W. Cole, Michael R. Swift, Flavio Toigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The recently observed behavior of helium films adsorbed on alkali metal surfaces has confirmed earlier ideas about wetting and prewetting transitions. However, a quantitative discrepancy between the predicted and observed wetting temperature suggests that a reexamination of the energetics of adsorbed helium films is required. We show how the zero point phonon energy of an alkali-vapor interface can dramatically change the wetting properties of these substrates, in accord with experiment. We investigate the dependence on the exposed facet of the crystal surface. For Rb and Cs, the (110) face is predicted to be wet at zero temperature while the (100) face is not. An isotope effect is also predicted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2682-2684
Number of pages3
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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