Sputtering of surfaces by ion irradiation: A comparison of molecular dynamics and binary collision approximation models to laboratory measurements

LS Morrissey and OJ Tucker and RM Killen and S Nakhla and DW Savin, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 130, 013302 (2021).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0051073

We compare various sputtering simulation methods to experimental results in both the low energy (<1 keV) and high energy (>= 1 keV) impact regimes for argon ions impacting a pure copper substrate at normal incidence. Our results indicate that for high energy impacts, both binary collision approximation (BCA) and molecular dynamics methods can be used to generate reasonable predictions for the yield and energy distribution of the sputtered atoms. We also find reasonable agreement between the theoretical and experimental results down to impact energies of 600 eV. However, at 200 eV impact energies, significant discrepancies appear between the experimental and theoretical ejecta energy distributions in the peak position, the width of the energy distribution, and the magnitude of the high energy tail. These discrepancies appear to arise from the experimental results being only for atoms sputtered normal to the substrate surface, whereas the theoretical results are integrated over all 2 pi solid angles above the surface. Using the BCA code SDTrimSP and limiting the results to only atoms emitted within +/- 15 degrees of the surface normal brings theory and experiment into reasonable agreement. These results suggest that for low energy impacts, the energy distribution of sputtered atoms is highly dependent on the emission angle of the ejecta.

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