Articles

Growth and Erosion of Thin Solid Films

Science  20 Jul 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4966, pp. 264-268
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4966.264

Abstract

Thin films that are grown by the process of sputtering are, by and large, quite unlike the smooth, featureless structures that one might expect. In general, these films have a complicated surface morphology and an extended network of grooves and voids in their interiors. Such features can have a profound effect on the physical properties of a thin film. The surface irregularities and the bulk defects are the result of a growth instability due to competitive shadowing, an effect that also plays a role in geological processes such as erosion. For amorphous thin films, the shadow instability can be described by a remarkably simple model, which can be shown to reproduce many important observed characteristics of thin film morphology.

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