We investigate the formation and the coarsening dynamics of islands in a strained epitaxial semiconductor film. These islands are commonly observed in thin films undergoing a morphological instability due to the presence of the elastocapillary effect. We first describe both analytically and numerically the formation of an equilibrium island using a two-dimensional continuous model. We have found that these equilibrium island-like solutions have a maximum height h0 and they sit on top of a flat wetting layer with a thickness hw. We then consider two islands, and we report that they undergo a noninterrupted coarsening that follows a two stage dynamics. The first stage may be depicted by a quasistatic dynamics, where the mass transfers are proportional to the chemical potential difference of the islands. It is associated with a time scale tc that is a function of the distance d between the islands and leads to the shrinkage of the smallest island. Once its height becomes smaller than a minimal equilibrium height h0*, its mass spreads over the entire system. Our results pave the way for a future analysis of coarsening of an assembly of islands.
Physical Review E
- Pub Date:
- October 2016
- Condensed Matter - Materials Science;
- Condensed Matter - Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics;
- Nonlinear Sciences - Pattern Formation and Solitons
- Phys. Rev. E 94, 042808 (2016)