By studying metal growth on Pt(111), we determine the reasons for the high island densities observed in pulsed laser deposition (PLD) compared to conventional thermal deposition. For homoepitaxy by PLD with moderate energies (≲ 100 eV) of the deposited ions, high island densities are caused by the high instantaneous flux of arriving particles. Additional nuclei are formed at high ion energies (≳ 200 eV) by adatoms created by the impinging ions. For heteroepitaxy, the island density is also increased by intermixing (deposited material implanted in the surface), creating an inhomogeneous potential energy surface for diffusing atoms. We discuss implications for layer-by-layer growth and sputter deposition.
Corresponding author: M. Schmid (schmid).
Users with online access to Phys. Rev. Lett. can load the article from the publisher.