A hybrid off-lattice kinetic Monte Carlo/molecular dynamics method for amorphous thin film growth

07 April 2023, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The ability to understand and model the growth of amorphous thin films on solid surfaces is essential to a wide range of industrial applications, from the deposition of wear-resistant coatings to the production of solar cells. Here, a three-dimensional (3D) hybrid off-lattice kinetic Monte Carlo-molecular dynamics (kMC/MD) algorithm is developed to study the growth of thin amorphous films on solid substrates over timescales of tens of seconds with atomistic resolution. We use this method to study the growth of polyphosphate films from tricresyl phosphate (TCP) molecules on an iron substrate. Molecular adsorption, desorption, bond breaking/formation processes, and diffusion of iron ions through the film are simulated in the kMC stage and the film is relaxed during the MD stage. The kMC/MD method is approximately ten orders of magnitude faster than equivalent reactive force field (ReaxFF MD) simulations. The simulated film growth rate and topology agree well with experimental results and the chemical structure of the film is consistent with previous molecular dynamics simulations of iron polyphosphates. The newly-developed hybrid kMC/MD methodology can be adopted to yield important insights into thin film growth for several potential applications, which are also discussed.


Off-lattice kinetic Monte Carlo
Molecular Dynamics
Multiscale modeling
Thin-film growth
Lubricant additives
Tricresyl phosphate


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