Electron cascades and secondary electron emission in graphene under energetic ion irradiation

Henrique Vázquez, Alina Kononov, Andreas Kyritsakis, Nikita Medvedev, André Schleife, Flyura Djurabekova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Highly energetic ions traversing a two-dimensional material such as graphene produce strong electronic excitations. Electrons excited to energy states above the work function can give rise to secondary electron emission, reducing the amount of energy that remains in graphene after the ion impact. Electrons can be either emitted (kinetic energy transfer) or captured by the passing ion (potential energy transfer). To elucidate this behavior that is absent in three-dimensional materials, we simulate the electron dynamics in graphene during the first femtoseconds after ion impact. We employ two conceptually different computational methods: a Monte Carlo (MC)-based one, where electrons are treated as classical particles, and time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT), where electrons are described quantum mechanically. We observe that the linear dependence of electron emission on deposited energy, emerging from MC simulations, becomes sublinear and closer to the TDDFT data when the electrostatic interactions of emitted electrons with graphene are taken into account via complementary particle-in-cell simulations. Our TDDFT simulations show that the probability for electron capture decreases rapidly with increasing ion velocity, whereas secondary electron emission dominates in the high-velocity regime. We estimate that these processes reduce the amount of energy deposited in the graphene layer by 15%-65%, depending on the ion and its velocity. This finding clearly shows that electron emission must be taken into consideration when modeling damage production in two-dimensional materials under ion irradiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224306
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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