Ion-erosion induced surface nanoporosity and nanotopography on Si

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The low-energy ion-bombardment induced surface nanotopography and the nanopatterning of Si has been simulated by atomistic simulations using an approach based on molecular dynamics (MD). In order to speed up simulations a reasonable cutoff in simulation time and increased cooling rates for keeping in hand the system temperature have been used. We get an unexpectedly rich variety of disordered nanopatterns formed by the self-organization of the crater rims and adatoms islands generated by the individual ion impacts. Our results reveal that the low-energy (0.5 keV impact energy) ion-sputtered Si surface is not smooth at the sub-20 nm length scale and deep nanoholes rule the landscape. Moreover substantial nanoporosity is found beneath the surface with the size range of a few nanometer. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) images are also shown obtained for low-fluence ion-sputtering of Si at 2 keV impact energy at 30 angle of incidence. STM images reveal similar features obtained by computer simulations: nanoholes can be seen with a few nanometer diameter. The overall topography landscape as well as the rms surface roughness also show similar features for the images obtained by STM or MD at 2 keV impact energy. The applied approach could make it possible the simulation of nanotopographic images at the molecular dynamics level of theory and could help resolve scanning probe microscopy images in the sub-20 nm length scale regime.

Original languageEnglish
Article number244706
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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