Scanning tunneling microscopy studies show significant structural modifications that involved atom desorption and displacement following mild irradiation by electrons of 90–2000 eV. For Si(111) −(7 × 7), adatom layer vacancies increased monotonically with incident energy. For Si(100) −(2 × 1), irradiation produced dimer vacancies, and ad-dimers as Si atoms transferred to the terrace. The modification processes are tied to the energy distribution of electron-hole and electron attachment states achieved by inelastic cascade scattering. Hence, beams previously believed to be benign induce surface structural modifications.
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