Effect of surface morphology on the sputtering yields: I. Ion sputtering from self-affine surfaces

As extensive experimental studies have shown, under certain conditions, ion bombardment of solid targets induces a random (self-affine) morphology on the ion-eroded surfaces. The rough morphology development is known to cause substantial variations in the sputtering yields. In this article, we present a theoretical model describing the sputter yields from random, self-affine surfaces subject to energetic ion bombardment. We employ the Sigmund’s theory of ion sputtering, modified for the case of self-affine surfaces, to compute the sputter yields. We find that the changes in the sputtering yield, associated with the non-planar surface morphology, are strongly dependent on the parameters characterizing the surface roughness (such as the saturation width and the correlation length) and the incident ion beam (such as the incident ion energy and the deposited energy widths). It is shown that, for certain ranges of the parameters variations, surface roughness leads to substantial enhancements in the yield, with magnitude of the effect being more than 100%, as compared to the flat surface value. Furthermore, we find that, depending on the interplay between these parameters, the surface roughness can both enhance and suppress the sputter yields.


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