Statistical Physics

Ratchet effect in surface electromigration: smoothing surfaces by an ac field

We demonstrate that for surfaces that have a nonzero Schwoebel barrier the application of an ac field parallel to the surface induces a net electromigration current that points in the descending step direction. The magnitude of the current is calculated analytically and compared with Monte Carlo simulations. Since a downhill current smoothes the surface, our results imply that the application of ac fields can aid the smoothing process during annealing and can slow or eliminate the Schwoebel-barrier-induced mound formation during growth.


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