Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Sample rocking and rotation in ion beam etching


Low energy ion bombardment is an established technique for the cleaning, processing and analysis of the surfaces of solids, yet the ion bombardment of these materials does not always produce a flat uniform surface required for many applications. A variety of ion-induced topographies are frequently observed. Rocking and rotation of the sample can reduce unwanted topography by averaging out the angle of incidence effect which is an important factor in the production of surface artefacts. This paper presents a theory which enables a simulation of the development of surfaces in two and three dimensions under the conditions of changes in the surface-beam orientation. It is shown how the discontinuities in surface gradient which occur with inert gas ion bombardment of static samples and are manifested by cones, pyramids and facets can be suppressed by sample rotations and some computer simulations are presented to illustrate this effect.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    G. Carter, B. Navinsek andJ. L. Whitton, in “Sputtering by Particle Bombardment II” edited by R. Behrisch (Springer Verlag, Berlin, 1983) p. 231.

  2. 2.

    D. E. Sykes, D. D. Hall, R. E. Thurstans andJ. M. Walls,Appl. Surf. Sci. 5 (1980) 103.

  3. 3.

    S. S. Makh, R. Smith andJ. M. Walls,J. Mater. Sci. 17 (1982) 1689.

  4. 4.

    J. L. Whitton, G. Carter, M. J. Nobes andJ. S. Williams,Rad. Effects 32 (1977) 129.

  5. 5.

    R. S. Gvosdover, V. M. Efremenkova, L. B. Shelyakin andV. E. Yurasova,ibid. 27 (1976) 237.

  6. 6.

    O. Auciello andR. Kelly,ibid. 66 (1982) 195.

  7. 7.

    Idem, ibid. 46 (1980) 105.

  8. 8.

    R. Cong-Xin, C. Guo-Ming, F. Xin-Ding, Y. Jie, F. Hong-Li, andT. Shih-Chang,ibid. 77 (1983) 177.

  9. 9.

    G. Carter, J. S. Colligon andM. J. Nobes,ibid. 31 (1977) 65.

  10. 10.

    A. D. G. Stewart andM. W. Thompson,J. Mater. Sci. 4 (1969) 56.

  11. 11.

    D. J. Barber, F. C. Frank, M. Moss, J. W. Steeds andI. S. T. Tsong,ibid. 8 (1973) 1030.

  12. 12.

    G. Carter, J. S. Colligon andM. J. Nobes,ibid. 8 (1973) 1473.

  13. 13.

    R. Smith andJ. M. Walls,Phil. Mag. A 42(2) (1980) 235.

  14. 14.

    R. Smith, M. A. Tagg andJ. M. Walls,Vacuum 34 (1/2) (1984) 175.

  15. 15.

    R. Smith, S. S. Makh andJ. M. Walls,Phil. Mag. A 47(4) (1983) 453.

  16. 16.

    A. R. Neureuther, C. Y. Liu andC. H. Ting,J. Vac. Sci. Technol. 16(6) (1979) 1767.

  17. 17.

    G. Carter, M. J. Nobes andS. A. Cruz,J. Mater. Sci. Lett. 3 (1984) 523.

  18. 18.

    G. B. Whitham, “Linear and Non-Linear Waves” (Wiley, New York, 1974) 65.

  19. 19.

    C. F. Gerald, “Applied Numerical Analysis” (Addison Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, 1977) Ch. 5.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tagg, M.A., Smith, R. & Walls, J.M. Sample rocking and rotation in ion beam etching. J Mater Sci 21, 123–130 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01144709

Download citation


  • Pyramid
  • Uniform Surface
  • Established Technique
  • Surface Gradient
  • Incidence Effect