Enabling attractive-repulsive potentials in binary-collision-approximation monte-carlo codes for ion-surface interactions

Jon T. Drobny, Davide Curreli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binary Collision Approximation (BCA) codes for ion-material interactions, such as SRIM, Tridyn, F-TRIDYN, and SDtrimSP, have historically been limited to screened Coulomb potentials even at low energies due to the difficulty in numerically solving the Distance of Closest Approach (DOCA) problem for attractive-repulsive potentials. Techniques such as direct n-body simulation or modifications to Newton’s method are either prohibitively costly or not guaranteed to work for all potentials. Advanced rootfinding techniques, such as companion matrix solvers, offer a solution. For many attractive-repulsive potentials, however, a companion matrix cannot be used directly, because there is no way to put the associated functions into a monomial basis form. A complementary technique is proxy rootfinding—by finding the best-fit polynomial approximant of a function, the zeros of the approximant can be guaranteed to be close to the zeros of the function. Using the Chebyshev basis and grid offers additional guarantees with regards to the quality of the approximation, the speed of convergence, and the avoidance of Runge’s phenomenon. By finding Chebyshev interpolants and using the Chebyshev-Frobenius companion matrix, the zeros of any real function on a bounded domain can be found. Here we show that using an Adaptive Chebyshev Proxy Rootfinder with Automatic Subdivision (ACPRAS) with appropriate scaling functions, numerical issues presented by attractive-repulsive potentials, including those of scale, can be handled. Using these techniques, we show that it is possible to include any physically reasonable interatomic potential in a BCA code, and to guarantee correctness of the resulting scattering angle calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126513
JournalMaterials Research Express
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023


  • BCA
  • Binary Collision Approximation
  • Chebyshev proxy rootfinder
  • attractive-repulsive potential
  • extension of BCA to low-energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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