Slow highly charged ions carry a large amount of potential energy that can be dissipated within femtoseconds upon interaction with a surface. HCI-insulator collisions result in high sputter yields and surface nano-feature creation due to strong coupling between the solid's electronic system and lattice. For HCIs interacting with Al oxide, combined experiments and theory indicate that defect mediated desorption can reasonably explain preferential O atom removal and an observed threshold for sputtering due to potential energy. These studies have relied on measuring mass loss on the target substrate or probing craters left after desorption. Our approach is to extract highly charged ions onto the Al oxide barriers of metal-insulator-metal tunnel junctions and measure the increased conductance in a finished device after the irradiated interface is buried under the top metal layer. Such transport measurements constrain dynamic surface processes and provide large sets of statistics about the way individual HCI projectiles dissipate their potential energy. Results from Xeq+ for q = 32, 40, 44 extracted onto Al oxide films are discussed in terms of post irradiation electrical device characteristics. Future work will elucidate the relationship between potential energy dissipation and tunneling phenomena through HCI modified oxides.
Citation: Journal of Physics-Condensed Matter
Pub Type: Journals
highly charged ions, potential energy, tunnel junctions