R. Alvarez, C. López-Santos, J. Parra-Barranco, V. Rico, A. Barranco, J. Cotrino, A.R. González-Elipe, A. Palmero
Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B, 32(4) (2014) 041802
doi: 10.1116/1.4882877

The growth of nanostructured physical vapor deposited thin films at oblique angles is becoming a hot topic for the development of a large variety of applications. Up to now, empirical relations, such as the so-called tangent rule, have been uncritically applied to account for the development of the nanostructure of these thin films even when they do not accurately reproduce most experimental results. In the present paper, the growth of thin films at oblique angles is analyzed under the premises of a recently proposedsurface trapping mechanism. The authors demonstrate that this process mediates the effective shadowing area and determines the relation between the incident angle of the deposition flux and the tilt angle of the columnar thin film nanostructures. The analysis of experimental data for a large variety of materials obtained in our laboratory and taken from the literature supports the existence of a connection between the surface trapping efficiency and the metallic character of the deposited materials. The implications of these predictive conclusions for the development of new applications based on oblique angle deposited thin films are discussed.

Nanocolumnar Growth of Thin Films deposited at Oblique Angles: Beyond the Tangent Rule