Mound formation and coarsening from a nonlinear instability in surface growth

Chakrabarti, Buddhapriya ; Dasgupta, Chandan (2004) Mound formation and coarsening from a nonlinear instability in surface growth Physical Review E, 69 (1). 011601_1-011601_18. ISSN 1063-651X

PDF - Publisher Version

Official URL:

Related URL:


We study spatially discretized versions of a class of one-dimensional, nonequilibrium, conserved growth equations for both nonconserved and conserved noise using numerical integration. An atomistic version of these growth equations is also studied using stochastic simulation. The models with nonconserved noise are found to exhibit mound formation and power-law coarsening with slope selection for a range of values of the model parameters. Unlike previously proposed models of mound formation, the Ehrlich-Schwoebel step-edge barrier, usually modeled as a linear instability in growth equations, is absent in our models. Mound formation in our models occurs due to a nonlinear instability in which the height (depth) of spontaneously generated pillars (grooves) increases rapidly if the initial height (depth) is sufficiently large. When this instability is controlled by the introduction of a nonlinear control function, the system exhibits a first-order dynamical phase transition from a rough self-affine phase to a mounded one as the value of the parameter that measures the effectiveness of control is decreased. We define an "order parameter" that may be used to distinguish between these two phases. In the mounded phase, the system exhibits power-law coarsening of the mounds in which a selected slope is retained at all times. The coarsening exponents for the spatially discretized continuum equation and the atomistic model are found to be different. An explanation of this difference is proposed and verified by simulations. In the spatially discretized growth equation with conserved noise, we find the curious result that the kinetically rough and mounded phases are both locally stable in a region of parameter space. In this region, the initial configuration of the system determines its steady-state behavior.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to American Physical Society.
ID Code:22778
Deposited On:24 Nov 2010 08:19
Last Modified:17 May 2016 06:45

Repository Staff Only: item control page