Continuum model of surface roughening and epitaxial breakdown during low-temperature Ge(001) molecular beam epitaxy

K. A. Bratland, T. Spila, D. G. Cahill, J. E. Greene, P. Desjardins

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Numerical simulations based on a discrete model describing step edge motion are used to compute the surface morphological evolution of Ge(001) layers deposited by low-temperature (Ts 45-230 C) molecular beam epitaxy and to probe the relationship between surface roughening and the onset of epitaxial breakdown-the abrupt growth mode transition from epitaxial to amorphous-at temperature-dependent critical film thicknesses h1(Ts). Computed surface widths w and in-plane coherence lengths d as a function of layer thickness h exhibit good agreement with experimental values. Inspired by experimental results indicating that epitaxial breakdown is initiated at facetted interisland trenches as the surface roughness reaches a T s-independent overall aspect ratio, we show that simulated data for w/d 0.03 correspond to thicknesses h1 exp (-E1/kT s) with E1 0.63 eV, a value equal to the Ge adatom diffusion activation energy on Ge(001). Simulated h1 values agree well with experimental data. Above a critical growth temperature of 170 C, computed w/d values saturate at large film thicknesses, never reaching the critical aspect ratio w/d 0.03. Thus, the model also predicts that epitaxial breakdown does not occur for Ts 170 C as observed experimentally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063513
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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