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Water adsorption, solvation and deliquescence of alkali halide thin films on SiO2 studied by ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

Abstract

The adsorption of water on KBr thin films evaporated onto SiO2 was investigated as a function of relative humidity (RH) by ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. At 30percent RH adsorbed water reaches a coverage of approximately one monolayer. As the humidity continues to increase, the coverage of water remains constant or increases very slowly until 60percent RH, followed by a rapid increase up to 100percent RH. At low RH a significant number of the Br atoms are lost due to irradiation damage. With increasing humidity solvation increases ion mobility and gives rise to a partial recovery of the Br/K ratio. Above 60percent RH the increase of the Br/K ratio accelerates. Above the deliquescence point (85percent RH), the thickness of the water layer continues to increase and reaches more than three layers near saturation. The enhancement of the Br/K ratio at this stage is roughly a factor 2.3 on a 0.5 nm KBr film, indicating a strong preferential segregation of Br ions to the surface of the thin saline solution on SiO2.

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