Creation of Nanohillocks on CaF 2 Surfaces by Single Slow Highly Charged Ions

Institut für Allgemeine Physik, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria.
Physical Review Letters (Impact Factor: 7.51). 06/2008; 100(23):237601. DOI: 10.1103/PHYSREVLETT.100.237601
Source: PubMed


Upon impact on a solid surface, the potential energy stored in slow highly charged ions is primarily deposited into the electronic system of the target. By decelerating the projectile ions to kinetic energies as low as 150 x q eV, we find first unambiguous experimental evidence that potential energy alone is sufficient to cause permanent nanosized hillocks on the (111) surface of a CaF(2) single crystal. Our investigations reveal a surprisingly sharp and well-defined threshold of potential energy for hillock formation which can be linked to a solid-liquid phase transition.

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