Mechanism of Interlayer Transport on a Growing Au(111) Surface: 2D vs. 3D Growth

Abid Ali, Hannes Jónsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The atomic scale transitions corresponding to diffusion and interlayer transport of a Au adatom on the low energy, close packed Au(111) surface are studied using density functional theory calculations within the generalized gradient approximation. Minimum energy paths and estimates of activation energy are calculated for processes that influence whether the crystal grows layer-by-layer, i.e. 2D growth, or whether new islands tend to nucleate on top of existing islands resulting in 3D growth. Kinks on island edges turn out to provide paths for adatom descent with lower activation energy than straight steps. The energy barrier for an adatom to round the corner and enter a kink site is significantly higher. A descent mechanism that places an adatom near but not at a kink site can therefore promote the formation of a new row of step atoms and lead to the introduction of additional kink sites, thereby opening up new low activation energy paths for descent and promotion of 2D growth. The sites adjacent and above the step edge provide large binding energy for the adatom, especially at the B-type step, and form a trough along which the adatom can migrate before descending, thereby increasing the probability that an adatom finds a kink on the B-type step. These features of the energy landscape representing the interaction of a Au adatom with the surface point to the possibility of a re-entrant layer-by-layer growth mode of the low energy, close packed surface of the gold crystal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101944
JournalSurfaces and Interfaces
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska Curie Innovative Training Network ELENA, grant agreement No. 722149 and by the Icelandic Science Fund.

Funding Information:
Hannes Jonsson reports financial support was provided by Horizon 2020.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

Other keywords

  • Crystal growth
  • Electronic structure
  • Gold
  • Interlayer transport
  • Simulations
  • Transition mechanism


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