We simulate the formation of experimentally observed trapezoidal hillocks on etched Si(110) surfaces, describing their generic geometrical shape and analyzing the relative stability and/or reactivity of the key surface sites. In our model, the hillocks are stabilized by Cu impurities in the etchant adsorbing on the surface and acting as pinning agents. A model of random adsorptions will not result in hillock formation since a single impurity is easily removed from the surface. Instead a whole cluster of Cu atoms is needed as a mask to stabilize a hillock. Therefore we propose and analyze mechanisms that drive correlated adsorptions and lead to stable Cu clusters.
- Cu clusters
- surface morphology