Amorphous silicon is an important material, amidst a debate whether or not it is a glass. We produce amorphous Si surfaces by ion bombardment and vapor growth, and image discrete Si clusters which hop by two-state dynamics at 295K. Independent of surface preparation, these clusters have an average diameter of ∼5 atoms. Given prior results for metallic glasses, we suggest that this cluster size is a universal feature. The hopping activation free energy of 0.93±0.15eV is rather small, in agreement with a previously untested surface glass model. Hydrogenation quenches the two-state dynamics, apparently by increasing surface crystallinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235501
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 10 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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