Thermal stability of epitaxial SrRuO3 films as a function of oxygen pressure

Ho Nyung Lee; Christen, Hans M.; Chisholm, Matthew F.; Roueleau, Christopher M.; Lowndes, Douglas H.
May 2004
Applied Physics Letters;5/17/2004, Vol. 84 Issue 20, p4107
Academic Journal
The thermal stability of electrically conducting SrRuO3 thin films grown by pulsed-laser deposition on (001) SrTiO3 substrates has been investigated by atomic force microscopy and reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) under reducing conditions (25-800 °C in 10-7-10-2 Torr O2). The as-grown SrRuO3 epitaxial films exhibit atomically flat surfaces with single unit-cell steps, even after exposure to air at room temperature. The films remain stable at temperatures as high as 720 °C in moderate oxygen ambients (> 1 mTorr), but higher temperature anneals at lower pressures result in the formation of islands and pits due to the decomposition of SrRuO3. Using in situ RHEED, a temperature and oxygen pressure stability map was determined, consistent with a thermally activated decomposition process having an activation energy of 88 kJ/mol. The results can be used to determine the proper conditions for growth of additional epitaxial oxide layers on high quality electrically conducting SrRuO3.


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