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High Resolution Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy

  1. Manuel P. Soriaga1,
  2. Xiaole Chen1,
  3. Ding Li1,
  4. John L. Stickney2

Published Online: 15 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia309

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Soriaga, M. P., Chen, X., Li, D. and Stickney, J. L. 2008. High Resolution Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy. Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

  2. 2

    University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2008


The determination of the identity and structure of molecular species present in no more than monolayer quantities at solid surfaces is one of the more difficult tasks in interfacial science. In this regard, vibrational spectroscopy is an invaluable technique; in the evaluation of the molecular integrity of surface-bound compounds, it has few equals. Optical methods such as infrared spectroscopy, while rather uncomplicated for bulk materials, lack the high sensitivity needed for most surface species due to minuscule molecular amounts. A much more responsive alternative is based on the use of low-energy electrons to interact with the molecular oscillators on the surface. If inelastic interactions occur, the energy of the backscattered electrons will be lower than that of the incident electrons, and the energy loss will correspond to a vibrational-mode frequency. The present article briefly describes the fundamental principles of and instrumental considerations in high-resolution electron energy-loss spectroscopy (HREELS), and cites seminal applications in the study of the adsorption of organic and inorganic molecules at metal and semiconductor surfaces. A limited list of HREELS work published since the turn of the century is added in the last section.


  • high-resolution electron energy-loss spectroscopy;
  • surface vibrational spectroscopy;
  • dipole scattering;
  • impact scattering;
  • physisorption;
  • chemisorption;
  • surface coordination chemistry;
  • surface organometallic chemistry