Ion induced dewetting of Au–Si on a SiO2 surface: composite nanodot evolution and wettability transition
A nanodot array morphology gradually develops on SiO2 surface when a thin bi-layer of Au and Si undergoes ion irradiation. An increasing amount of gold silicide is detected as islands on the insulator surface evolve into nanodots as a function of increasing ion fluence. Different stages of evolution from islands to nanodots are found to be driven by the localized melting of Au along the ion-track and dewetting of the metal film. Dewetting is accompanied by sputter-erosion and mixing of Au and Si at the bi-layer interface due to ion energy deposition. Interestingly, a gradual transition in wettability of the surface from the hydrophilic to the hydrophobic one is observed with the growth of nanodots, which is correlated with the compositional variation. The experimental results indicate a route towards the controlled growth of composite nanodots on an insulator surface having hydrophobic properties using ion irradiation.