New mechanism for impurity-induced step bunching
Fachbereich Physik, Universität Essen -
D-45117 Essen, Germany
Accepted: 17 September 2002
Codeposition of impurities during the growth of a vicinal surface leads to an impurity concentration gradient on the terraces, which induces corresponding gradients in the mobility and the chemical potential of the adatoms. Here it is shown that the two types of gradients have opposing effects on the stability of the surface: Step bunching can be caused by impurities which either lower the adatom mobility, or increase the adatom chemical potential. In particular, impurities acting as random barriers (without affecting the adatom binding) cause step bunching, while for impurities acting as random traps the combination of the two effects reduces to a modification of the attachment boundary conditions at the steps. In this case, attachment to descending steps, and thus step bunching, is favored if the impurities bind adatoms more weakly than the substrate.
PACS: 81.15.Aa – Theory and models of film growth / 68.55.-a – Thin film structure and morphology / 68.55.Ln – Defects and impurities: doping, implantation, distribution, concentration, etc
© EDP Sciences, 2002