Spontaneous formation of nanometer-scale self-organized structures in Ag-Cu alloys under irradiation

R. A. Enrique, P. Bellon

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Ion-beam irradiation can be used as a processing tool to synthesize metastable materials. A particular case is the preparation of solid solutions from immiscible alloys, which have been achieved for a whole range of systems. In this process, enhanced solute concentration is obtained through the local mixing induced by each irradiation event, which if occurring at a high enough frequency, can outweigh demixing by thermal diffusion. The resulting microstructure forms in far from equilibrium conditions, and theoretical results for these kind of driven alloys have shown that novel microstructures exhibiting self-organization can develop. To test these predictions, we prepare Ag-Cu multilayered thin films that we subject to 1 MeV Kr+-ion irradiation at temperatures ranging from room temperature to 225°C, and characterize the specimens by x-ray diffraction, TEM and STEM. We observe two different phenomena occurring at different length scales: On the one hand, regardless of the irradiation temperature, grains grow under irradiation until reaching a size limited by film thickness (∼200 nm). On the other hand, the distribution of species inside the grains is greatly affected by the irradiation temperature. At intermediate temperatures, a semi-coherent decomposition is observed at a nanometer scale. This nanometer-scale decomposition phenomenon appears as an evidence of patterning, and thus confirms on the possibility of using ion-beam irradiation as a route to synthesize nanostructured materials with novel magnetic and optical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)O7.1.1-O7.1.6
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
StatePublished - 2001
EventIon Beam Synthesis and Processing of Advanced Materials - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 27 2000Nov 29 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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