The ultrasmoothness of diamond-like carbon surfaces
The ultrasmoothness of diamond-like carbon coatings is explained by an atomistic/continuum multiscale model. At the atomic scale, carbon ion impacts induce downhill currents in the top layer of a growing film. At the continuum scale, these currents cause a rapid smoothing of initially rough substrates by erosion of hills into neighboring hollows. The predicted surface evolution is in excellent agreement with atomic force microscopy measurements. This mechanism is general, as shown by similar simulations for amorphous silicon. It explains the recently reported smoothing of multilayers and amorphous transition metal oxide films and underlines the general importance of impactinduced downhill currents for ion deposition, polishing, and nanopattering.