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We present density functional theory modeling of time-resolved optical pump/X-ray spectroscopic probe data of CO desorption from Ru(0001). The BEEF van der Waals functional predicts a weakly bound state as a precursor to desorption. The optical pump leads to a near-instantaneous (< 100 fs) increase of the electronic temperature to nearly 7000 K. The temperature evolution and energy transfer between electrons, substrate phonons and adsorbate is described by the two-temperature model and found to equilibrate on a timescale of a few picoseconds to an elevated local temperature of ~ 2000 K. Estimating the free energy based on the computed potential of mean force along the desorption path, we find an entropic barrier to desorption (and by time-reversal also to adsorption). This entropic barrier separates the chemisorbed and precursor states, and becomes significant at the elevated temperature of the experiment (~ 1.4 eV at 2000 K). Experimental pump-probe X-ray absorption/X-ray emission spectroscopy indicates population of a precursor state to desorption upon laser-excitation of the system (Dell'Angela et al., 2013). Computing spectra along the desorption path confirms the picture of a weakly bound transient state arising from ultrafast heating of the metal substrate.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Surface Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Surface Science, volume 640, in 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.susc.2015.03.011

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