Pulsed laser deposition of (SrBa)Nb2O6 thin films and their properties

Strontium barium niobate (SrxBa1-xNb2O6, shortly SBN) is a solid solution system with tetragonal tungsten bronze crystal structure. It exhibits a ferroelectric phase with only one polar axis and a transition temperature depending on the Sr/Ba ratio. This thesis studies the growth of SBN thin films, in order to obtain a ferroelectric thin film model system for the study of 180° domain switching close to the ferroelectric phase transition. SBN has been chosen not only because uniaxial, but because it is possible to tune the temperature of phase transition varying the Sr/Ba ratio. It is thus possible to study electric properties of the phase transition close to room temperature, where conduction phenomena related to defects are normally lower. Thin films of SBN were grown by Pulsed Laser Deposition in a vacuum system constructed during this thesis work. For the formulation of a model it is desirable to have a system as close as possible to a single crystal. Therefore deposition parameters have been optimized to grow SBN thin films with the polar axis oriented perpendicular to the film plane. The films are integrated in parallel plate capacitor structures, in order to measure dielectric properties. The stability of the ferroelectric phase is found to be sensitive to impurities; contaminants with concentration below 1% induce a lowering of the transition temperature of about 100°C. Strain as well has influence on the phase transition; in the case of substrate with thermal expansion coefficients different from the SBN ones, the SBN film is under stress. A 0.6% tensile strain induces a lowering of the transition temperature of about 100°C, this is the case of silicon single crystal substrate. Grown on strontium titanate single crystals (STO), whose thermo-mechanical properties are close to the one of SBN, the films exhibit a phase transition temperature compatible with the one measured on single crystals. The obtained films suffer from leakage that is reduced by thermal treatment in oxygen rich atmosphere. The oxygen vacancies, created during the deposition process, are considered to be responsible of leakage. Vacancies recovery upon annealing does not eliminate the problem, and measurement of polarization at room temperature is difficult. However, piezoelectric measurements performed on individual grains, with atomic force microscope, prove that these have ferroelectric properties; by these experiment has been proved that it is possible to switch the polarization. Films with a disordered structure of grains are much less leaky than the ones with columnar grains spanning the whole cross section. These observations lead to the conclusion that conduction goes trough the grain boundaries. On STO single crystals, SBN grows epitaxial in Volmer-Weber mode. With a suitable preparation of the substrate surface, it is possible to induce the growth of films with different orientations of the polar axis: in the film plane, perpendicular to it or inclined of 45°. A model is proposed, explaining the epitaxial relation with the substrate on the basis of the perovskite kernel contained in the unit cell of the tetragonal tungsten bronze structure. The film grows from the nucleation of the perovskite structure that rules the orientation of the film; the high temperature at which the substrate is kept during the deposition, assure the necessary mobility for the arriving atoms to organize in the SBN structure around these nuclei. The study of literature data allows to state that such a model is valid not only for substrates with perovskite structure, but can be extended to substrates with a cubic crystal structure, like magnesium oxide.

Setter, Nava
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis3327-2

 Record created 2005-08-31, last modified 2018-03-17

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