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Origin of complex impact craters on native oxide coated silicon surfaces

Journal article
Authors J. Samela
K. Nordlund
Vladimir Popok
Eleanor E B Campbell
Published in Physical Review B
Volume 77
Pages 075309(1-15)
Publication year 2008
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 075309(1-15)
Language en
Keywords cluster implantation, theory of impact phenomena, numerical simulations, atomic force microscopy
Subject categories Low energy physics, Atomic physics, Surfaces and interfaces


Crater structures induced by impact of keV-energy Ar cluster ions on silicon surfaces are measured with atomic force microscopy. Complex crater structures consisting of a central hillock and outer rim are observed more often on targets covered with a native silicon oxide layer than on targets without the oxide layer. To explain the formation of these complex crater structures, classical molecular dynamics simulations of Ar cluster impacts on oxide coated silicon surfaces, as well as on bulk amorphous silica, amorphous Si, and crystalline Si substrates, are carried out. The diameter of the simulated hillock structures in the silicon oxide layer is in agreement with the experimental results, but the simulations cannot directly explain the height of hillocks and the outer rim structures when the oxide coated silicon substrate is free of defects. However, in simulations of 5 keV/atom Ar12 cluster impacts, transient displacements of the amorphous silicon or silicon oxide substrate surfaces are induced in an approximately 50 nm wide area surrounding the impact point. In silicon oxide, the transient displacements induce small topographical changes on the surface in the vicinity of the central hillock. The comparison of cluster stopping mechanisms in the various silicon oxide and silicon structures shows that the largest lateral momentum is induced in the silicon oxide layer during the impact; thus, the transient displacements on the surface are stronger than in the other substrates. This can be a reason for the higher frequency of occurrence of the complex craters on oxide coated silicon.

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