Critical dimensions for YBCO islands grown by pulsed laser deposition

Gilmore, C.M.; Kim, J.
November 2002
Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing;2002, Vol. 75 Issue 5, p565
Academic Journal
Islands of constant width at half maximum of approximately 100 nm have been observed during the pulsed laser deposition of films of nominal thickness from 0.7 to 3.0 nm of the material YBa[sub 2] Cu[sub 3] O[sub 7-δ] (YBCO) on substrates of SrTiO[sub 3] . The critical island dimensions of width, height and spacing were analyzed with classical kinetic and thermodynamic theories. Analytically it was calculated that the equilibrium island width for a 29-nm-high island should be 111 nm. The analysis also predicted that islands of smaller height should be wider, and higher islands should be narrower. Islands of height from 3.5 nm to 29 nm were observed with an atomic force microscope to have a constant width at half maximum of approximately 100 nm. There are several possible differences between experiment and analysis that could explain the difference in the results: the islands formed in a non-equilibrium phase of YBCO, the island strain relaxed from the base to the top, and smaller islands may not have reached their equilibrium width. Larger islands had significant roughening at the top. Calculations predict that these islands would be unstable with respect to surface perturbations. Calculations of relaxation strain energy and surface energy showed that there was excess strain energy available for island heights above 9 nm to provide the extra surface energy that would be necessary for surface perturbations to develop. The minimum observed interisland spacing of 36 nm agreed with calculations of the average atom diffusion length (40.6 nm).


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