Molecular dynamics study of the dewetting of copper on graphite and graphene: Implications for nanoscale self-assembly

M Fuentes-Cabrera and BH Rhodes and JD Fowlkes and A Lopez-Benzanilla and H Terrones and ML Simpson and PD Rack, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 83, 041603 (2011).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.83.041603

Thin-film dewetting can be exploited to self-assemble and organize nanoparticles. Crucial to this effort is the understanding of the nanoscale liquid phase dynamics, and molecular dynamics simulations (MD) provide a powerful tool in this respect. In this paper we demonstrate that MD simulations utilizing a Lennard-Jones (LJ) interface potential can be effectively used to study various wetting regimes of nanoscale Cu disks on graphite. It was found that both the dewetting velocity and the equilibrium contact angle increase with a decrease in the Cu-C potential, and that the retraction velocities obtained are characteristic of dewetting phenomena governed by inertial and capillary forces. This phenomena leads to a change in morphology, from disks to nanodroplets, which, in turn, when using the most accurate LJ potential, jump off the graphitic substrate with a velocity on the order of 140 m/s. This ejection velocity is consistent with the previous experimental observation that nanoscale Au triangles deposited on graphite or glass jump when exposed to a pulsed laser above the melting threshold. Interestingly, the Cu ejection velocity decreases when the liquid Cu disks are deposited on a suspended graphene membrane. Finally, a Rayleigh-Plateau-like instability, which leads to the breakup of a pseudo-one-dimensional liquid Cu nanowire in nanodroplets, is revealed when the MD simulations are performed using different LJ interface potentials.

Return to Publications page