Role of Stress in Thin Film Alloy Thermodynamics: Competition between Alloying and Dislocation Formation
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Using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and first-principles local-spin-density-approximation calculations to study submonolayer films of Co (1-c)Ag (c)/Ru(0001) alloys, we have discovered a novel phase-separation mechanism. When the Ag concentration c exceeds 0.4, the surface phase separates between a dislocated, pure Ag phase and a pseudomorphically strained Co(0.6)Ag (0.4) surface alloy. We attribute the phase separation to the competition between two stress relief mechanisms: surface alloying and dislocation formation. The agreement between STM measurements and our calculated phase diagram supports this interpretation.
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