Volume 88, Number 2, October 2009
Article Number 26005
Number of page(s) 6
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 09 November 2009
EPL, 88 (2009) 26005
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/88/26005

Narrowing of terrace-width distributions during growth on vicinal surfaces

A. BH. Hamouda1, 2, 3, A. Pimpinelli1, 2 and T. L. Einstein1

1   Department of Physics, University of Maryland - College Park, MD 20742-4111 USA
2   LASMEA, UMR 6602 CNRS/Université Blaise Pascal - Clermont 2, F-63177 Aubière cedex, France, EU
3   Physics Department, Sciences Faculty of University of Monastir - 5019 Monastir, Tunisia

received 10 July 2009; accepted in final form 7 October 2009; published October 2009
published online 9 November 2009

We present analytic and numerical results for the steady-state, non-equilibrium terrace-width distribution (TWD) of steps during growth on vicinal surfaces. Kinetic Monte Carlo shows that the TWD narrows progressively with increasing flux until the model breaks down. The narrowing corresponds to kinetic repulsion between moving steps, due to the intrinsic asymmetry of the adatom diffusion current on a growing surface. With a 1-dimensional (1D) model, from a Burton-Cabrera-Frank approach, we make contact with previous work, in which the attachment asymmetry can also be due to electromigration or to asymmetry in attachment rates; we deduce an expression for the narrowing via a Fokker-Planck analysis. We illustrate how Ehrlich-Schwoebel barriers (although inducing an instability in 2D) also lead to such asymmetry and narrowing.

68.35.-p - Solid surfaces and solid-solid interfaces: structure and energetics.
81.15.Aa - Theory and models of film growth.
05.10.Gg - Stochastic analysis methods (Fokker-Planck, Langevin, etc.).

© EPLA 2009