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      The role of oxygen vacancies in SrTiO3 at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface

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          Abstract

          Strontium titanate, SrTiO3, a widely used substrate material for electronic oxide thin film devices, has provided many interesting features. In a combination with a similar oxide material, LaAlO3, it has recently received great interest. It was suggested that two-dimensional electron gas is formed at the interface between SrTiO3 and LaAlO3, resulting in high electrical conductivity and mobility. In this report we demonstrate that the transport properties in those heterostructures are very sensitive to the deposition parameters during thin film growth. Using cathode- and photoluminescence studies in conjunction with measurements of electrical transport properties and microstructure we show that the electronic properties observed at a LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface can be explained by oxygen reduced SrTiO3. In addition, we demonstrate that oxygen can be pushed in and out of the sample, but that re-oxygenation of an initially oxygen depleted LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructure is partly prevented by the presence of the film.

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          Most cited references 12

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          A high-mobility electron gas at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterointerface.

          Polarity discontinuities at the interfaces between different crystalline materials (heterointerfaces) can lead to nontrivial local atomic and electronic structure, owing to the presence of dangling bonds and incomplete atomic coordinations. These discontinuities often arise in naturally layered oxide structures, such as the superconducting copper oxides and ferroelectric titanates, as well as in artificial thin film oxide heterostructures such as manganite tunnel junctions. If polarity discontinuities can be atomically controlled, unusual charge states that are inaccessible in bulk materials could be realized. Here we have examined a model interface between two insulating perovskite oxides--LaAlO3 and SrTiO3--in which we control the termination layer at the interface on an atomic scale. In the simple ionic limit, this interface presents an extra half electron or hole per two-dimensional unit cell, depending on the structure of the interface. The hole-doped interface is found to be insulating, whereas the electron-doped interface is conducting, with extremely high carrier mobility exceeding 10,000 cm2 V(-1) s(-1). At low temperature, dramatic magnetoresistance oscillations periodic with the inverse magnetic field are observed, indicating quantum transport. These results present a broad opportunity to tailor low-dimensional charge states by atomically engineered oxide heteroepitaxy.
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            Atomic Control of the SrTiO3 Crystal Surface.

            The atomically smooth SrTiO(3) (100) with steps one unit cell in height was obtained by treating the crystal surface with a pH-controlled NH(4)F-HF solution. The homoepitaxy of SrTiO(3) film on the crystal surface proceeds in a perfect layer-by-layer mode as verified by reflection high-energy electron diffraction and atomic force microscopy. Ion scattering spectroscopy revealed that the TiO(2) atomic plane terminated the as-treated clean surface and that the terminating atomic layer could be tuned to the SrO atomic plane by homooepitaxial growth. This technology provides a well-defined substrate surface for atomically regulated epitaxial growth of such perovskite oxide films as YBa(2)Cu(3)O(7-delta).
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              Atomic-scale imaging of nanoengineered oxygen vacancy profiles in SrTiO3.

              At the heart of modern oxide chemistry lies the recognition that beneficial (as well as deleterious) materials properties can be obtained by deliberate deviations of oxygen atom occupancy from the ideal stoichiometry. Conversely, the capability to control and confine oxygen vacancies will be important to realize the full potential of perovskite ferroelectric materials, varistors and field-effect devices. In transition metal oxides, oxygen vacancies are generally electron donors, and in strontium titanate (SrTiO3) thin films, oxygen vacancies (unlike impurity dopants) are particularly important because they tend to retain high carrier mobilities, even at high carrier densities. Here we report the successful fabrication, using a pulsed laser deposition technique, of SrTiO3 superlattice films with oxygen doping profiles that exhibit subnanometre abruptness. We profile the vacancy concentrations on an atomic scale using annular-dark-field electron microscopy and core-level spectroscopy, and demonstrate absolute detection sensitivities of one to four oxygen vacancies. Our findings open a pathway to the microscopic study of individual vacancies and their clustering, not only in oxides, but in crystalline materials more generally.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                2006-03-20
                10.1103/PhysRevB.75.121404
                cond-mat/0603501
                Custom metadata
                Phys. Rev. B 75, 121404(R) (2007)
                19 pages, 5 figures
                cond-mat.mtrl-sci cond-mat.str-el

                Condensed matter

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