Skip to Main Content
Your organization might have access to this article on the publisher's site. To check, click on this link:http://dx.doi.org/+10.1063/1.4767068
Using our new in situ high resolution scanning electron microscope, which is integrated into the UNILAC ion beamline at the Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany, we investigated the swift heavy ion induced dewetting of a thin iron oxide layer on Si. Besides heterogeneous hole nucleation at defects and spontaneous (homogeneous) hole nucleation, we could clearly identify a dewetting mechanism, which is similar to the spinodal dewetting observed for liquid films. Instead of being due to capillary waves, it is based on a stress induced surface instability. The latter results in the formation of a wavy surface with constant dominant wave-length and increasing amplitude during ion irradiation. Dewetting sets in as soon as the wave-troughs reach the film-substrate interface. Inspection of the hole radii and rim shapes indicates that removal of the material from the hole area occurs mainly by plastic deformation at the inner boundary and ion induced viscous flow in the peripheral zone due to surface tension.