The characterisation of clean metal surfaces

  • John M. Walls

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The most perfectly structured metal surface observed in practice is that of a field evaporated field-ion microscope specimen. This surface has been characterised by adopting various optical analogue techniques. Hence a relationship has been determined between the structure of a single plane on the surface of a field-ion emitter and the geometry of a binary zone plate. By relating the known focussing properties of such a zone plate to those obtained from the projected images of such planes in a field-ion micrograph, it is possible to extract new information regarding the local magnification of the image.
Further to this, it has been shown that the entire system of planes comprising the field-ion imaging surface may be regarded as a moire pattern formed between over-lapping zone plates. The properties of such moire zone plates are first established in an analysis of the moire pattern formed between zone plates on a flat surface. When these ideas are applied to the field-ion image it becomes possible to deduce further information regarding the precise topography of the emitter. It has also become possible to simulate differently proJected field-ion images by overlapping suitably aberrated zone plates. Low-energy ion bombardment is an essential preliminary to much surface research as a means of producing chemically clean surfaces. Hence it is important to know the nature and distribution of the resultant lattice damage, and the extent to which it may be removed by annealing.
The field-ion microscope has been used to investigate such damage because its characterisation lies on the atomic scale. The present study is concerned with the in situ sputtering of tungsten emitters using helium, neon, argon and xenon ions with energies in the range 100eV to 1keV, together with observations of the effect of annealing. The relevance of these results to surface cleaning schedules is discussed.
Date of AwardNov 1973
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorErnest Braun (Supervisor) & H.N . Southworth (Supervisor)


  • characterisation
  • clean metal surfaces

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