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Physical Review Letters

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Inelastic neutron scattering is used to probe the dynamical response of H2 films adsorbed on MgO(100) as a function of film thickness. Concomitant diffraction measurements and a reduced-dimensionality quantum dynamical model provide insight into the molecule-surface interaction potential. At monolayer thickness, the rotational motion is strongly influenced by the surface, so that the molecules behave like quasiplanar rotors. These findings have a direct impact on understanding how molecular hydrogen binds to the surface of materials used in catalytic and storage applications.

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