The Roughening Transition of Vicinal Surfaces

  • J. Lapujoulade
  • B. Salanon
  • F. Fabre
  • B. Loisel
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 239)


On a vicinal surface the steps are expected to become rougher and rougher as the temperature is increased. Using a TSK (Terrace, Step, Kink) model it is shown that a transition of the Kosterlitz-Thouless type occurs. Then above T = TR the correlation function of step positions diverges logarithmically with distance. This behavior is experimentally studied by TEAS (Thermal Energy Atom Scattering). A comparison between the experimental peak profiles and exact Monte Carlo calculations on TSK models allows to evaluate important physical quantities such as the kink energy formation and the step-step interaction energy.

Various vicinal surfaces of copper have been studied:

Cu(113),Cu(115),Cu(1,1,11),Cu(331),Cu(310) in order to check the influence of step-step distance, step structure, terrace structure. The following trends are observed:
  • At the same temperature the roughness increases with the distance between steps as a result of the weakening of the step-step interaction.

  • Changing the terrace structure from (100) to (111) does not significantly affect the roughness. — Steps parallel to the loosely packed direction [100] are very much rougher than those parallel to the close-packed direction [110].

  • Freezing of the roughness due to low surface mobility always occurs below room temperature.

  • The large terrace surface Cu(1,1,11) deviates from the prediction of the Kosterlitz-Thouless model. A tentative explanation is given.


Correlation Function Equilibrium Shape Elementary Excitation Step Displacement Vicinal Surface 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Lapujoulade
    • 1
  • B. Salanon
    • 1
  • F. Fabre
    • 1
  • B. Loisel
    • 2
  1. 1.Service de Physique des Atomes et des SurfacesC.E.N. SaclayGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  2. 2.Section de Recherches en Metallurgie PhysiqueC.E.N. SaclayGif-sur-YvetteFrance

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