Atomistic Processes in the Early Stages of Thin-Film Growth

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Science  18 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5311, pp. 377-383
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5311.377

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Growth of thin films from atoms deposited from the gas phase is intrinsically a nonequilibrium phenomenon governed by a competition between kinetics and thermodynamics. Precise control of the growth and thus of the properties of deposited films becomes possible only after an understanding of this competition is achieved. Here, the atomic nature of the most important kinetic mechanisms of film growth is explored. These mechanisms include adatom diffusion on terraces, along steps, and around island corners; nucleation and dynamics of the stable nucleus; atom attachment to and detachment from terraces and islands; and interlayer mass transport. Ways to manipulate the growth kinetics in order to select a desired growth mode are briefly addressed.

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