Ni films were deposited on one side of single crystal Cu substrate discs of 1.0 and 1.5 mm thickness. These discs were irradiated on the Cu side with argon ions. Evidence for enhanced Cu segregation at the Ni surface was found for both thicknesses. This effect decreased with increasing distance between the diffusion zone and the irradiated surface. Slow positron annihilation results indicate lower vacancy-like defects at the subsurface layer after Ar irradiation on the other surface of Cu disks. Such long-range effect is here interpreted on the basis of a particular type of mobile discrete breather called quodon. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.