We report on nanoscale patterning of GaAs (100) semiconductor substrates employing an ion projection through a self-organized stencil mask. The nanostructured mask, formed by ion beam sputtering of a polycrystalline Au film, allows driving the GaAs morphology strongly out of equilibrium. In a second stage, after the stencil mask is removed, we quantitatively follow the dynamical evolution of the forced system toward equilibrium by analyzing the evolution of the power spectral density of the height profiles and their slope and curvature distribution. Strong differences are observed by comparing the relaxation dynamics of GaAs surfaces which tend to smoothen with that of glass, a material which instead tends to non-linearly amplify the pattern once driven out of equilibrium by the stencil mask.

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