When an amorphous solid is etched by an off‐normal incidence ion beam, a ripple topography often results. A theory explaining the origin of these waves is presented. For incidence angles close to the normal, we find that the ripple wave vector is parallel to the surface component of the beam direction, provided that longitudinal straggling of the beam is not too large. The ripple orientation is rotated by 90° when the beam is close to grazing incidence. The wavelength given by the theory varies as λ∼( fT)1/2 exp(−ΔE/2kBT) for high temperatures T and low fluxes f, where ΔE is the activation energy for surface self‐diffusion. The predicted magnitude of the wavelength is in reasonable accord with experiments in this regime.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.