Atomistic Analysis of Phase Segregation Patterning in Binary Thin Films Using Applied Mechanical Fields
The patterned compositional evolution in thin films of a binary alloy controlled by modulated stress fields is studied by employing Monte Carlo simulations. General features of stress-patterned phase segregation are probed using a binary Lennard-Jones potential in which the lattice misfit between the two components of the alloy is varied systematically. In general, patterning of the microstructure is found to be more robust in the low-mismatch binary systems because large lattice mismatch promotes plastic, and therefore, irreversible relaxation, during annealing. It is shown that some control over the relaxation process can be achieved by careful design of the applied thermal annealing history. Additional calculations have been performed using two other potentials for binary metallic systems, an embedded-atom method (EAM) potential for Cu–Ag and a modified embedded-atom method (MEAM) potential for Cu–Ni that represent examples of high and low-mismatched systems, respectively. The results obtained with generic Lennard-Jones potentials are in excellent agreement with those from the EAM and MEAM potentials suggesting that it is possible to derive general guidelines for accomplishing stress-patterned segregation in a variety of thin films of binary alloys.