Knystautas, Emile J., Donnelly, S. E. and Birtcher, Robert C. (1998) Radiation damage from single heavy ion impacts on metal surfaces. Proceedings of SPIE, 3413. pp. 174-182. ISSN 0277-786X

The effects of single ion impacts on the surfaces of films of Au, Ag, In and Pb have been studied using in-situ transmission electron microscopy. On all these materials, individual ion impacts produce surface craters, in some cases, with associated expelled material. The cratering efficiency scales with the density of the irradiated metal. For very thin Au foils, in some cases individual ions are seen to punch small holes completely through the foil. Continued irradiation result in a thickening of the foil. The process giving rise to crater and hole formation and other changes observed in the thin foils has been found to be due to pulsed localized flow - i.e. melting and flow due to the thermal spikes arising form individual ion impacts. Experiments carried out on thin films of sliver sandwiched between SiO2 layers have indicated that pulsed localized flow also occurs in this system and contributes to the formation of Ag nanoclusters in SiO2 - a system of interest for its non-linear optical properties. Calculation indicates that, when ion-induced, collision cascades occur near surfaces with energy densities sufficient to cause melting, craters are formed. Crater formation occurs as a result of the explosive outflow of material from the hot molten core of the cascade. Processes occurring in the sandwiched layer are less well understood.

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