Quantum Electronic Stability of Atomically Uniform Films

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Science  11 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5519, pp. 1131-1133
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5519.1131

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We have studied the structural stability of thin silver films with thicknesses of N = 1 to 15 monolayers, deposited on an Fe(100) substrate. Photoemission spectroscopy results show that films of N = 1, 2, and 5 monolayer thicknesses are structurally stable for temperatures above 800 kelvin, whereas films of other thicknesses are unstable and bifurcate into a film with N ± 1 monolayer thicknesses at temperatures around 400 kelvin. The results are in agreement with theoretical predictions that consider the electronic energy of the quantum well associated with a particular film thickness as a significant contribution to the film stability.

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