Unravelling the Physical Mechanisms that Determine Microstructural Evolution of Ultrathin Volmer-Weber Films
2014 (English)In: Journal of Applied Physics, ISSN 0021-8979, E-ISSN 1089-7550, Vol. 116, no 4, 044302- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The initial formation stages (i.e., island nucleation, island growth, and island coalescence) set characteristic length scales during growth of thin films from the vapour phase. They are, thus, decisive for morphological and microstructural features of films and nanostructures. Each of the initial formation stages has previously been well-investigated separately for the case of Volmer-Weber growth, but knowledge on how and to what extent each stage individually and all together affect the microstructural evolution is still lacking. Here we address this question using growth of Ag on SiO2 from pulsed vapour fluxes as a case study. By combining in situ growth monitoring, ex situ imaging and growth simulations we systematically study the growth evolution all the way from nucleation to formation of a continuous film and establish the effect of the vapour flux time domain on the scaling behaviour of characteristic growth transitions (elongation transition, percolation and continuous film formation). Our data reveal a pulsing frequency dependence for the characteristic film growth transitions, where the nominal transition thickness decreases with increasing pulsing frequency up to a certain value after which a steady-state behaviour is observed. The scaling behaviour is shown to result from differences in island sizes and densities, as dictated by the initial film formation stages. These differences are determined solely by the interplay between the characteristics of the vapour flux and time required for island coalescence to be completed. In particular, our data provide evidence that the steady-state scaling regime of the characteristic growth transitions is caused by island growth that hinders coalescence from being completed, leading to a coalescence-free growth regime.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 116, no 4, 044302- p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-103920DOI: 10.1063/1.4890522ISI: 000340710700078OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-103920DiVA: diva2:693011