[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A computational study of the self-organization of heteroepitaxial ultrathin metal films is presented. By means of a continuum complex field model, the relationship of the equilibrium surface patterns of the film to the adsorbate-substrate adhesion energy, as well as to the mismatch between the adsorbate and the substrate bulk lattice parameters, are obtained in both the tensile and the compressive regimes. Our approach captures pattern periodicities over large length scales, up to several hundreds of nm, retaining atomistic resolution. Thus, the results can be directly compared with experimental data, in particular for systems such as Cu/Ru(0001) and Ag/Cu(111). Three nontrivial, stable superstructures for the overlayer, namely, stripe, honeycomb, and triangular, are identified that closely resemble those observed experimentally. Simulations in nonequilibrium conditions are performed as well to identify metastable structural configurations and the dynamics of ordering of the overlayer.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thin heteroepitaxial overlayers have been proposed as templates to generate stable, self-organized nanostructures at large length scales, with a variety of important technological applications. However, modeling strain-driven self-organization is a formidable challenge due to different length scales involved. In this Letter, we present a method for predicting the patterning of ultrathin films on micron length scales with atomic resolution. We make quantitative predictions for the type of superstructures (stripes, honey-comb, triangular) and length scale of pattern formation of two metal-metal systems, Cu on Ru(0001) and Cu on Pd(111). Our findings are in excellent agreement with previous experiments and call for future experimental investigations of such systems.