Molecular dynamics simulations of multiple Ag nanoclusters deposition on a substrate
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Ag thin and thick films have been experimentally deposited using a technique called Laser Ablation of a Microparticle Aerosol (LAMA). This technique is based on a supersonic jet accelerating NPs of a few nm diameter up to 1000 m/s and operating at room temperature. The deposited films have experimentally demonstrated interesting properties such as dense growth with good adherence on the substrate. Aerosol feed rates have been fixed to 10 mg/h which corresponds to rate depositions of 10¹⁰ to 10¹¹ NPs/s/cm². In order to model this deposition technique and possibly be able to predict the morphology and structure of deposited films using computational methods, we have designed MD programs simulating the depositions of several Ag nanoclusters onto a substrate at a fixed temperature (300 K). The variation of parameters such as cluster size, cluster impact energy, and deposition rate has influenced the morphology and structure of the deposited films. Cluster diameters have been set to 3 nm or 5 nm, cluster velocities set to 200 m/s (0.022 eV/atom), 400 m/s (0.069 eV/ atom), or 800 m/s (0.358 eV/atom), and the deposition rate adjusted to ensure relaxation times between impactions of 5 ps to 20 ps. The evolution of deposited film density, adherence, and crystal arrangement has been analyzed with the variation of the aforementioned parameters. The highest cluster velocities have enabled the deposition of smoother, denser, and more adherent films. NCs with an initial velocity of 200 m/s have shown ratios of flattening equal to 50 % as opposed to 85% flattening for NCs deposited at 800 m/s. These observations have enabled us to draw qualitative conclusions on the film density The deposited films are less porous when the cluster impaction velocity increases. Atomic mixing between substrate and impacted NC atoms increased with increasing deposition velocity, which can perhaps be correlated to an increase of adherence, assuming that more mixing will create stronger molecular binding in the cluster-substrate interaction. Finally, complete epitaxial growth was observed for the highest impaction velocities only, which indicates that recrystalization can occur for this range of impact energies (0.3 eV/atom - 0.5 eV/atom). Although experimental results have given more quantitative data on film density and sticking ratios, they agree with our modeling, and this comparison allows us to validate our MD simulations. However, some limitations have been faced, mainly because of long computing time requirements that a single laptop computer has not been able to support.