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Atomic scale simulations are performed for ion bombardment induced roughening of amorphous diamond films in a process where deposition is done by using kiloelectronvolt mass separated ion beams operated in the upper limit of practical deposition energies up to 20 keV. Resulting surfaces are shown to be self-affine and they have low surface roughness. The experimentally observed extremely low roughness is obtained when moderate surface relaxation within the distance of next nearest neighbors is taken into account in simulations. It is found that there is also another mechanism, originating from the ballistic movement of redeposited atoms, which can maintain the eroding surfaces smooth. High-energy, off-normal deposition is shown to lead in pattern formation on a mesoscopic scale. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.