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Atomic hydrogen on the surface of superfluid helium: the sticking probability and polaronic behavior Zimmerman, Dan Simon


A study is made of the interaction between hydrogen atoms and the surface elementary excitations of superfluid "He. Calculations for the sticking probability and for the energy and effective mass of a hydrogen atom bound to the surface are presented. As a first step in the calculations, we formulate the Hamiltonian describing a hydrogen atom interacting with the surface of "He in its ground state together with the interaction coupling to the surface elementary excitations (the ripplons). The derivation is based on the association of the surface ground state with a flat surface and the excited states with a sinusoidally varying height of the surface. The interaction potential is derived by summing a *He-H atom-atom pair potential over helium atoms below the surface. The atom-atom pair potential is chosen so that the derived surface potential is a Morse potential with parameters which are fitted to the effective surface potential derived by Mantz and Edwards for a hydrogen atom interacting with N-1 helium atoms. The energy and angle dependent sticking probability, S(E,θ), and the thermally averaged sticking probability, S(T), are calculated. Results are compared with the experimental value of S(T), S(T)=0.035±0.005, measured for the temperature range 0.18<T<0.27K. The possibility that a hydrogen atom bound above the surface may exhibit polaronic behaviour is investigated. The energy of the hydrogen surface "polaron" and its effective mass are calculated using perturbation theory. The hydrogen atom is found to be weakly coupled to the surface elementary excitations, and therefore the polaronic effects are weak. The contribution to these results from virtual transition to free states is emphasized.

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