Anisotropic corner diffusion as origin for dendritic growth on hexagonal substrates
Ag aggregation on Ag(111), Pt(111), and 1 ML Ag pseudomorphically grown on Pt(111), has been studied with variable temperature STM. These systems all have in common that dendritic patterns with trigonal symmetry rather than randomly ramified aggregates, which would be expected for a simple hit and stick mechanism, form. Dendrites are characterized by preferential growth in the [<(11)over bar>2]-directions, i.e., perpendicular to A-steps. The key process for their formation has been found to be diffusion of one-fold comer atoms towards neighboring steps. Calculations with the effective medium theory show that this relaxation is highly asymmetric with respect to the two different kinds of close-packed steps. It leads to dendritic growth as verified by kinetic Monte-Carlo simulations which agree well with experiment.