On the Development of Order and Interfaces during the Growth of Ultrathin La2CuO4Films by Molecular Beam Epitaxy

Hawoong Hong, Xinyue Fang, Friederike Wrobel, Meng Kai Lin, Zhan Zhang, Kevin M. Peterson, Anand Bhattacharya, Dillon D. Fong, Tai Chang Chiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the atomic structure of interfaces in complex oxide heterostructures created by epitaxial growth has been investigated extensively, few studies have been conducted on how interfaces form and restructure at the initial stage of film growth. The dynamic aspects of the growth behavior can strongly influence the final interfacial atomic structure, which may lead to the emergence of interface-specific properties, such as the rise of interfacial superconductivity between certain Ruddlesden-Popper oxide materials. Here, the structural development of La2CuO4 thin films grown by molecular beam epitaxy on a LaSrAlO4 substrate is investigated by X-ray diffraction measurements with rapid scans over a volume of reciprocal space. This method provides far more detailed information on interface formation than traditional fixed-point measurements. The results show that the atomic structure of the interface becomes fully established after just a single unit cell of growth. Interestingly, restructuring continues to occur within the topmost half to one unit cell of the film during the deposition process. However, diffraction intensity oscillations from both reflection high-energy electron and X-ray measurements stabilize only after the growth of two unit cells, indicating that the growth front morphology continues to evolve until the start of the third unit cell. This multimodal investigation provides insights into the atomic processes taking place during layered oxide interface formation, including the dynamical rearrangement of LaO and CuO2 layers. Such information is not only relevant to the engineering and optimization of functional layer structures but can also be critical for ultrathin films.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5124-5130
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Electronic Materials
Volume3
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • RHEED
  • X-ray diffraction
  • growth front
  • interface structure
  • molecular beam epitaxy

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