Book chapter 1

Introduction to Surface and Thin Film Processes

John A. Venables

Cambridge University Press (2000)

Supplementary notes by John A. Venables

© Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University and John A. Venables


Chapter 1: Introduction to surface processes

Corrections, comments and updates


1.1 Elementary thermodynamic ideas of surfaces

In section 1.1.3 on surface stress, page 4, it was noted that 'surface stresses, and stresses in thin films are not identical, and may not have the same causes.' Surface stresses as such are discussed in section 7.3.3, but stresses in thin films are not considered in general within the book. The January 2002 issue of the MRS Bulletin contains a collection of articles on Mechanical Properties in Small Dimensions (Vinci and Baker, 2002), within which one of the articles (Floro et al. 2002), containing several references, deals with the physical origins of intrinsic stress in (Volmer-Weber, i.e. island growth) thin films.

New references for section 1.1

1.2 Surface energies and the Wulff theorem

In section 1.2.3 on surface energies, pages 8-10, I discuss several important references to surface energy measurements and calculations, and plot the results on a stereogram, using a particular 'stereographic triangle' to represent the results in figure 1.6. In the preface of the book, I mention that "each student has a different background, and therefore finds different aspects unfamiliar or difficult". These pages are the first place where you are likely to encounter this point.

Have you heard of a stereogram? If so, you probably had some courses in materials science! Typically, my courses are followed by a mixture of physicists, chemists, materials scienists and (electrical or mechanical) engineers, and it is generally only the materials people who have previously met the stereogram. The stereogram is a simple case for a mini-project, done in this case in 1998 at Sussex by Monika Fleischer and posted in Arizona at Crystallographic Notation and Stereograms. Here the geometry of the sterogram is explained and some references are given.

You can also look at some computer generated drawings of different surfaces, accessible via the same stereographic triangle, on Per Stoltze's Crystallography web-site in Denmark, complete with stereograms of the different crystal structures and their surfaces. This site is wonderful for getting across the ideas of the TLK model, starting from the relevant stereographic triangle. The simplest terrace is the simple cubic (s.c) (100) surface. Elementary ledges can be seen on the (310) surface, and kinks (on ledges) on the (931) surface. More examples, from the face-centered cubic (f.c.c) can be seen using the (100) surface. For this same structure, ledges can be seen on the (410) surface, and kinks, with somewhat more difficulty, on the (921) surface.

The above examples can also be obtained via my Web-based Resources page. Monika's project is on the Background material and student projects page, and Per Stoltze's pages are on the Surface theory and simulation page.

Sometimes individual pages can disappear, and so we can't use them for teaching purposes on any particular occasion. In that case you may wish to consult Roger Nix's Teaching Resources to see how other Professors have approached the same subject matter.

New references for section 1.2

1.3 Thermodynamics versus kinetics

New references for section 1.3

1.4 Introduction to surface and adsorbate reconstructions

New references for section 1.4

1.5 Introduction to surface electronics

In section 1.5.6 on the image force, page 32, I have been too sloppy in the formulae and have used old-fashioned c.g.s units without thinking. In MKS (S.I.) units, these formulae should be multiplied by the constant K = 1/(4pe0). Thanks to Richard Forbes and Michael Isaacson for spotting this, and to Yong Jiang for working through the related problem 1.6 in Spring 2002.

New references for section 1.5


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Latest version 21 January 2009.