Origin of atomic clusters during ion sputtering

L. E. Rehn, R. C. Birtcher, S. E. Donnelly, P. M. Baldo, L. Funk

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that the size distributions of small clusters ( n≤40; n=number of atoms/cluster) generated by sputtering obey an inverse power law with an exponent between −8 and −4. Here we report electron microscopy studies of the size distributions of larger clusters ( n≥500) sputtered by high-energy ion impacts. These new measurements also yield an inverse power law, but one with an exponent of −2 and one independent of sputtering yield, indicating that the large clusters are produced when shock waves, generated by subsurface displacement cascades, ablate the surface.
Original languageEnglish
Article number207601
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number20
Early online date24 Oct 2001
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


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