On the role of ion potential energy in low energy HiPIMS deposition: An atomistic simulation

M Kateb and JT Gudmundsson and P Brault and A Manolescu and S Ingvarsson, SURFACE & COATINGS TECHNOLOGY, 426, 127726 (2021).

DOI: 10.1016/j.surfcoat.2021.127726

We study the effect of the so-called ion potential or non-kinetic energies of bombarding ions during ionized physical vapor deposition of Cu using molecular dynamics simulations. In particular we focus on low energy high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) deposition, in which the potential energy of ions can be comparable to their kinetic energy. The ion potential, as a short-ranged repulsive force between the ions of the film-forming material and the surface atoms (substrate and later deposited film), is defined by the Ziegler-Biersack-Littmark potential. Analyzing the final structure indicates that, including the ion potential leads to a slightly lower interface mixing and fewer point defects (such as vacancies and interstitials), but resputtering and twinning have increased slightly. However, by including the ion potential the collision pattern changes. We also observed temporary formation of a ripple/pore with 5 nm height when the ion potential is included. The latter effect can explain the pores that have been observed experimentally in HiPIMS deposited Cu thin films by atomic force microscopy.

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