Surface segregation is the preferential enrichment of a surface region by one constituent (or more) of the material. Research into this topic started around 50 years ago and, 20,000 articles later, is still a hot topic today.
You can read about some of the latest developments in a JPCM special issue, published this month. The fundamental research is not only closely related to technological advances, but also has the potential to reveal new physics, as Guest Editor Professor Micha Polak writes in his preface:
One main reason for such significant scientific interest in surface segregation phenomena is their apparent relevance to, on the one hand, various technology-related chemical and physical properties of materials like heterogeneous catalysts and corrosion resistant alloys, and on the other, their effects on magnetic, electronic and optical materials.
The figure here, taken from one of the papers in the issue, nicely visualises the surface segregation process, showing the distribution of He atoms (coloured blue) in tungsten. Large-scale molecular dynamics simulations were used to obtain these results.
To find out more, check out the issue: surface segregation.
Image taken from Dimitrios Maroudas et al 2016 J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 28 064004, copyright IOP Publishing.
Categories: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter