Phase-field model for grain boundary grooving in multi-component thin films

Mathieu Bouville, Shenyang Hu, Long Qing Chen, Dongzhi Chi, David J. Srolovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Polycrystalline thin films can be unstable with respect to island formation (agglomeration) through grooving where grain boundaries intersect the free surface and/or thin film-substrate interface. We develop a phase-field model to study the evolution of the phases, composition, microstructure and morphology of such thin films. The phase-field model is quite general, describing compounds and solid solution alloys with sufficient freedom to choose solubilities, grain boundary and interface energies and heats of segregation to all interfaces. We present analytical results which describe the interface profiles, with and without segregation, and confirm them using in numerical simulations. We demonstrate that the present model accurately reproduces theoretical grain boundary groove angles both at and far from equilibrium. As an example, we apply the phase-field model to the special case of a Ni(Pt)Si (nickel/platinum silicide) thin film on an initially flat silicon substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-443
Number of pages11
JournalModelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Computer Science Applications


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