Sputtering and nitridation of transition metal surfaces under low energy, steady state nitrogen ion bombardment

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Transition metal surfaces exposed to low-energy reactive ions undergo dynamic changes in composition and density due to implantation and compound formation. We report measurements of nitrogen ion induced sputter yields for transition metals relevant to fusion and optics applications. Thin films of molybdenum, ruthenium, palladium and tungsten are bombarded by nitrogen ions of kinetic energies in the range of 50–500 eV at steady state fluences (1 × 1018ions/cm2). Measured sputter yields are explained through energy and momentum transfer under the binary collision approximation using the Monte Carlo code TRIDYN. X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies showed the nitrogen content in the films at the end of ion exposure is independent of incoming ion energy. This occurs due to competing implantation and preferential surface nitrogen sputtering processes within the XPS probing depth. All metals investigated showed evidence of a nitride formed due to energetic nitrogen impact. The combination of XPS and TRIDYN simulations were applied to extract effective reaction cross-sections for each metal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144529
JournalApplied surface science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020



  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Nitridation
  • Nitrogen ions
  • Sputter yield
  • Transition metals
  • Near-threshold

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