The relation between stress evolution and surface morphology during deposition of sputtered films is examined by combining kinetic Monte Carlo simulations and stress measurements. We find that the surface morphology is susceptible to an instability, which transforms from layer-by-layer growth to the formation of pillarlike columns. The gaps between these columns prevent complete densification and can lead to a network of pores in the layer.We propose that the formation of this structure changes the stress in the growing layers from compressive to tensile.
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