Group 5 elements (niobium and tantalum) and group 6 elements (molybdenum and tungsten) were exposed to helium plasma, and the resulting surface structures were observed by electron microscopy. Group 5 elements showed hole structures, where the size of the holes ranged from several tens of nm to a few hundred nm in diameter, while group 6 elements showed fiber-like structures. As a first step in understanding such differences, the difference in helium agglomeration energies and changes in the stress tensor as a function of the number of He atoms at interstitial sites were investigated for each element using density functional theory. The calculations revealed that helium atoms prefer to agglomerate in both of these groups. However, helium in group 6 elements can agglomerate more easily than group 5 elements due to higher binding energy. These results indicate a possible correlation between the shape of helium plasma induced surface nanostructures and the atomic level properties due to helium agglomeration.

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