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How ion bombardment reshapes metal surfaces
Date:5/22/2012

ion-substrate combinations," Kyung-Suk Kim said.

The new model revealed how ion bombardments can set three main mechanisms into motion in a matter of trillionths of a second. The researchers dubbed the mechanisms "dual layer formation," "subway-glide mode growth," and "adatom island eruption." They are a consequence of how the incoming ions melt the metal and then how it resolidifies with the ions occasionally trapped inside.

When ions hit the metal surface, they penetrate it, knocking away nearby atoms like billiard balls in a process that is akin, at the atomic level, to melting. But rather than merely rolling away, the atoms are more like magnetic billiard balls in that they come back together, or resolidify, albeit in a different order.

Some atoms have been shifted out of place. There are some vacancies in the crystal nearer to the surface, and the atoms there pull together across the empty space, that creates a layer with more tension. Beneath that is a layer with more atoms that have been knocked into it. That crowding of atoms creates compression. Hence there are now two layers with different levels of compression and tension.This "dual layer formation" is the precursor to the "subway-glide mode growth" and "adatom island eruption".

A hallmark of materials that have been bombarded with ions is that they sometimes produce a pattern of material that seems to have popped up out of the original surface. Previously, Kyung-Suk Kim said, scientists thought displaced atoms would individually just bob back up to the surface like fish killed in an underwater explosion. But what the team's models show is that these molecular islands are formed by whole clusters of displaced atoms that bond together and appear to glide back up to the surface.

"The process is analogous to people getting on a subway train at suburban stations, and they all come out together to the surface once the train arrives at a downtown station during the m
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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