Mechanisms of nanofractal structure formation and post-growth evolution
Veronika V. Dick
- Nanotechnology is a rapidly developing branch of science, which is focused on the study of phenomena at the nanometer scale, in particular related to the possibilities of matter manipulation. One of the main goals of nanotechnology is the development of controlled, reproducible, and industrially transposable nanostructured materials.
The conventional technique of thin-film growth by deposition of atoms, small atomic clusters and molecules on surfaces is the general method, which is often used in nanotechnology for production of new materials. Recent experiments show, that patterns with different morphology can be formed in the course of nanoparticles deposition process on a surface. In this context, predicting of the final architecture of the growing materials is a fundamental problem worth studying.
Another factor, which plays an important role in industrial applications of new materials, is the question of post-growth stability of deposited structures. The understanding of the post-growth relaxation processes would give a possibility to estimate the lifetime of the deposited material depending on the conditions at which the material was fabricated. Controllable post-growth manipulations with the architecture of deposited structures opens new path for engineering of nanostructured materials.
The task of this thesis is to advance understanding mechanisms of formation and post-growth evolution of nanostructured materials fabricated by atomic clusters deposition on a surface. In order to achieve this goal the following main problems were addressed:
1. The properties of isolated clusters can significantly differ from those of analogous clusters occurring on a solid surface. The difference is caused by the interaction between the cluster and the solid. Therefore, the understanding of structural and dynamical properties of an atomic cluster on a surface is a topic of intense interest from the scientific and technological point of view. In the thesis, stability, energy, and geometry of an atomic cluster on a solid surface were studied using a liquid drop approach which takes into account the cluster-solid interaction. Geometries of the deposited clusters are compared with those of isolated clusters and the differences are discussed.
2. The formation scenarios of patterns on a surface in the course of the process of cluster deposition depend strongly on the dynamics of deposited clusters. Therefore, an important step towards predicting pattern morphology is to study dynamics of a single cluster on a surface. The process of cluster diffusion on a surface was modeled with the use of classical molecular dynamics technique, and the diffusion coefficients for the silver nanoclusters were obtained from the analysis of trajectories of the clusters. The dependence of the diffusion coefficient on the system’s temperature and cluster-surface interaction was established. The results of the calculations are compared with the available experimental results for the diffusion coefficient of silver clusters on graphite surface.
3. The methods of classical molecular dynamics cannot be used for modeling the self-assembly processes of atomic clusters on a surface, because these processes occur on the minutes timescale, what would require an unachievable computer resource for the simulation. Based on the results of molecular dynamics simulations for a single cluster on a surface a Monte-Carlo based approach has been developed to describe the dynamics of the self-assembly of nanoparticles on a surface. This method accounts for the free particle diffusion on a surface, aggregation into islands and detachment from these islands. The developed method is allowed to study pattern formation of structures up to thousands nm, as well as the stability of these structures. Developed method was implemented in MBN Explorer computer package.
4. The process of the pattern formation on a surface was modeled for several different scenarios. Based on the analysis of results of simulations was suggested a criterion, which can be used to distinguish between different patterns formed on a surface, for example: between fractals or compact islands.This criteria can be used to predict the final morphology of a growing structure.
5. The post-growth evolution of patterns on a surface was also analyzed. In particular, attention in the thesis is payed to a systematical theoretical analysis of the post-growth processes occurring in nanofractals on a surface. The time evolution of fractal morphology in the course of the post-growth relaxation was analyzed, the results of these calculations were compared with experimental data available for the post-growth relaxation of silver cluster fractals on graphite substrate.
All the aforementioned problems are discussed in details in the thesis.