The Effect of the Molecular Mass on the Sputtering of Si, SiC, Ge, and GaAs by Electrosprayed Nanodroplets at Impact Velocities up to 17 km/s

R Borrajo-Pelaez and F Saiz and M Gamero-Castano, AEROSOL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 49, 256-266 (2015).

DOI: 10.1080/02786826.2015.1023890

Electrosprayed nanodroplets impacting on covalently bonded materials at velocities of a few kilometers per second strongly modify their surfaces by sputtering atoms, amorphizing the region surrounding the impact, and carving craters of comparable size. This article investigates the effects of the projectile's molecular mass on the phenomenology of the impact on Si, SiC, Ge, and GaAs at impact velocities significantly higher than previously studied. An appropriate range of molecular mass is covered by electrospraying the ionic liquids ethylammonium nitrate, EAN, and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis (trifluoromethylsulfonyl) imide, EMI-Im, which have molecular masses of 108 and 391 amu, respectively. The beamlets are characterized with the time-of-flight technique to determine the impact velocity, stagnation pressure, and molecular kinetic energy of the projectiles, and to estimate their average diameters. The ranges of these parameters are 7-17 km/s, 40-190 GPa, 50-420 eV, and 10-14 nm. Under these conditions, we find that the molecular mass has a strong effect on sputtering: the sputtering yield for the heavier EMI-Im molecule is always higher than for EAN, with maximum values for Si, SiC, Ge, and GaAs of 4.3, 11.5, 10.9, and 9.4 atoms per EMI-Im molecule, and 1.1, 3.9, 3.3, and 2.9 in the case of EAN. More importantly, droplets of the same diameter (10 nm) and kinetic energy eject significantly different numbers of atoms, with average ratios between the EMI-Im and EAN droplets of 1.8, 1.5, 1.7, and 1.5 for Si, SiC, Ge, and GaAs. Molecular dynamics simulations reproduce the observed enhancement of the sputtering at increasing molecular mass.

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