When smoothening makes it rough: Unhindered step-edge diffusion and the meandering instability on metal surfaces

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Abstract

The precise microscopic origin of step meandering is not known in many real situations. A detailed study of this instability has been made for copper, and none of the microscopic mechanisms proposed until now is able to describe all of the observed characteristic features of the instability, in particular, its dependence on the crystallographic orientations of steps. We propose a novel scenario, and using kinetic Monte Carlo simulations we show that essentially all features of step meandering of copper can be explained, if atoms diffuse along step edges and freely turn around the kinks they encounter along the ledge. Then, in a rather counterintuitive way, step meandering appears due to the very mechanism-step-edge diffusion-that may be expected to oppose it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106104
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume95
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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