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Creation of multiple nanodots by single ions


In the search to develop tools that are able to modify surfaces on the nanometre scale, the use of heavy ions with energies of several tens of MeV is becoming more attractive. Low-energy ions are mostly stopped by nuclei, which causes the energy to be dissipated over a large volume. In the high-energy regime, however, the ions are stopped by electronic excitations1,2,3, and the extremely local (10 nm3) nature of the energy deposition leads to the creation of nanosized ‘hillocks’ or nanodots under normal incidence4,5,6. Usually, each nanodot results from the impact of a single ion, and the dots are randomly distributed. Here we demonstrate that multiple, equally spaced dots, each separated by a few tens of nanometres, can be created if a single high-energy xenon ion strikes the surface at a grazing angle. By varying this angle, the number of dots, as well as their spacing, can be controlled.

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Figure 1: AFM images of nanodots and chains on SrTiO3 created by irradiation.
Figure 2: Measured length l of chains as a function of angle of incidence.
Figure 3: DFT calculation of the electron density of SrTiO3.
Figure 4: Electron density and electronic stopping.


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Financial support from the DFG (SFB 616: Energy dissipation at surfaces; and SFB 445: Nanoparticles from the Gas Phase) by GANIL (Project S18), and the sixth framework programme of the EU (EURONS: RII3-CT-2004-506065) is gratefully acknowledged. We thank P. and F. Jeanjean for their help with the experiment and A. Reichert for discussions.

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M.S. and H.L. conceived and designed the experiment. E.A., T.P., M.K., I.M., H.L. and M.S. performed the experiment and analysed and interpreted the data. E.A., R.M. and A.D. performed the theoretical calculations. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marika Schleberger.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Akcöltekin, E., Peters, T., Meyer, R. et al. Creation of multiple nanodots by single ions. Nature Nanotech 2, 290–294 (2007).

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