2017

In this work we compare Monte Carlo (MC) simulations of electron-transport properties with reflection electron energy-loss measurements in diamond and graphite films. We assess the impact of different approximations of the dielectric response on the observables of interest for the characterization of carbon-based materials.

We calculate the frequency-dependent dielectric response and energy-loss functions of these materials in two ways: a full ab initio approach, in which we carry out time-dependent density functional simulations in linear response for different momentum transfers, and a semi-classical model, based on the Drude-Lorentz extension to finite momenta of the optical dielectric function. Ab initio calculated dielectric functions lead to better agreement with measured energy-loss spectra compared to the widely used Drude-Lorentz model.

This discrepancy is particularly evident for insulators and semiconductors beyond the optical limit (q not equal 0), where single-particle excitations become relevant. Furthermore, we show that the behaviour of the energy-loss function obtained at different accuracy levels has a dramatic effect on other physical observables, such as the inelastic mean free path and the stopping power in the low energy (<100 eV) regime and thus on the accuracy of MC simulations.