Rare event molecular dynamics simulations of plasma induced surface ablation

O Sharia and J Holzgrafe and N Park and G Henkelman, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 141, 074706 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4892841

The interaction of thermal Ar plasma particles with Si and W surfaces is modeled using classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. At plasma energies above the threshold for ablation, the ablation yield can be calculated directly from MD. For plasma energies below threshold, the ablation yield becomes exponentially low, and direct MD simulations are inefficient. Instead, we propose an integration method where the yield is calculated as a function of the Ar incident kinetic energy. Subsequent integration with a Boltzmann distribution at the temperature of interest gives the thermal ablation yield. At low plasma temperatures, the ablation yield follows an Arrhenius form in which the activation energy is shown to be the threshold energy for ablation. Interestingly, equilibrium material properties, including the surface and bulk cohesive energy, are not good predictors of the threshold energy for ablation. The surface vacancy formation energy is better, but is still not a quantitative predictor. An analysis of the trajectories near threshold shows that ablation occurs by different mechanisms on different material surfaces, and both the mechanism and the binding of surface atoms determine the threshold energy. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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