R. Alvarez, L. Vazquez, R. Gago, A. Redondo-Cubero, J. Cotrino, A. Palmero
Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 46 (2013) 395303 (10pp)
The growth of ultra-smooth amorphous thin films induced by low-energy (below 1 keV) ion-assistance processes is studied. The relative contribution of ion-induced smoothening effects is analysed by means of a Monte Carlo model and experimental data. In general, highly rough granular or ultra-smooth (with roughness below one monolayer) films are produced depending on the competition between surface shadowing and ion-induced adatom mobility and sputtering. The ultra-smooth growth regime is experimentally and theoretically consistent with the Edwards–Wilkinson growth mode, which is related to the ion-induced enhancement of surface mobility. Overall, the framework and the fundamentals to analyse this type of growth are developed and discussed.