We use effective medium theory to demonstrate that the energies of many metal surfaces are lowered when these surfaces are replaced by facets with lower-index orientations. This implies that the low-temperature equilibrium shapes of many metal crystals should be heavily faceted. The predicted instability of vicinal metal surfaces is at variance with the almost generally observed stability of these surfaces. We argue that the unstable orientations undergo a defaceting transition at relatively low temperatures, driven by the high vibrational entropy of steps.
Physical Review Letters, 1999, Vol 82, Issue 17, p. 3500-3503