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The surface of a solid, or, more properly, the interface between a solid and some second phase, presents a very difficult problem to the surface chemist. One common denominator to these difficulties is that it is very hard to define exactly the state of the system when a solid surface is involved and that without such definition, observation may be trivial and deductions from observation merely empirical. Much interesting progress has been made in recent years, however, and some aspects of these developments will be reviewed here briefly along with a few observations on potentially interesting areas for future work.
We begin with the seemingly simple yet not really resolved problem of predicting the nature of the ideal surface of a single crystallographic plane at 0 K, then proceed to considerations of equilibrium polyhedra and equilibrium surface conformations; to nonequilibrium realities such as dislocations, irregularities, impurities, and so on; and finally to the interpretation of such average surface properties as adsorption behavior and contact angle. The sequence, clearly, is from relatively simple to increasingly complex. It is also in the order of purely theoretical calculations, direct surface structure studies, and general thermodynamic manifestations of the presence of the solid surface.
Adamson, Arthur W.
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif.