Cai, Biya (2016). Manipulating the structural and electronic properties of epitaxial NaNbO3 films via strain and stoichiometry. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Due to their intriguing dielectric, pyroelectric, elasto-electric, or opto-electric properties, oxide ferroelectrics are vital candidates for the fabrication of most electronics. However, these extraordinary properties exist mainly in the temperature regime around the ferroelectric phase transition, which is usually several hundreds of K away from room temperature. Therefore, the manipulation of oxide ferroelectrics, especially moving the ferroelectric transition towards room temperature, is of great interest for application and also basic research. In this thesis, we demonstrate this using examples of NaNbO3 films. We show that the transition temperature of these films can be modified via plastic strain caused by epitaxial film growth on a structurally mismatched substrate, and this strain can be fixed by controlling the stoichiometry. The structural and electronic properties of Na1+xNbO3+δ thin films are carefully examined by among others XRD (e.g. RSM) and TEM and cryoelectronic measurements. Especially the electronic features are carefully analyzed via specially developed interdigitated electrodes in combination with integrated temperature sensor and heater. The electronic data are interpreted using existing as well as novel theories and models, they are proved to be closely correlated to the structural characteristics. The major results are: -Na1+xNbO3+δ thin films can be grown epitaxially on (110)NdGaO3 with a thickness up to 140 nm (thicker films have not been studied). Plastic relaxation of the compressive strain sets in when the thickness of the film exceeds approximately 10 – 15 nm. Films with excess Na are mainly composed of NaNbO3 with minor contribution of Na3NbO4. The latter phase seems to form nanoprecipitates that are homogeneously distributed in the NaNbO3 film which helps to stabilize the film and reduce the relaxation of the strain. -For the nominally stoichiometric films, the compressive strain leads to a broad and frequency-dispersive phase transition at lower temperature (125 – 147 K). This could be either a new transition or a shift in temperature of a known transition. Considering the broadness and frequency dispersion of the transition, this is actually a transition from the dielectric state at high temperature to a relaxor-type ferroelectric state at low temperature. The latter is based on the formation of polar nano-regions (PNRs). Using the electric field dependence of the freezing temperature, allows a direct estimation of the volume (70 to 270 nm3) and diameter (5.2 to 8 nm, spherical approximation) of the PNRs. The values confirm with literature values which were measured by other technologies. -In case of the off-stoichiometric samples, we observe again the classical ferroelectric behavior. However, the thermally hysteretic phase transition which is observed around 620 – 660 K for unstrained material is shifted to room temperature due to the compressive strain. Beside to the temperature shift, the temperature dependence of the permittivity is nearly identical for strained and unstrained materials. -The last but not least, in all cases, a significant anisotropy in the electronic and structural properties is observed which arises automatically from the anisotropic strain caused by the orthorhombic structure of the substrate. However, this anisotropy cannot be explained by the classical model which tries to fit an orthorhombic film onto an orthorhombic substrate. A novel “square lattice” model in which the films adapt a “square” shaped lattice in the plane of the film during the epitaxial growth at elevated temperature (~1000 K) nicely explains the experimental results. In this thesis we sketch a way to manipulate the ferroelectricity of NaNbO3 films via strain and stoichiometry. The results indicate that compressive strain which is generated by the epitaxial growth of the film on mismatched substrate is able to reduce the ferroelectric transition temperature or induce a phase transition at low temperature. Moreover, by adding Na in the NaNbO3 film a secondary phase Na3NbO4 is formed which seems to stabilize the main phase NaNbO3 and the strain and, thus, is able to engineer the ferroelectric behavior from the expected classical ferroelectric for perfect stoichiometry to relaxor-type ferroelectric for slightly off-stoichiometry, back to classical ferroelectric for larger off-stoichiometry. Both strain and stoichiometry are proven as perfect methods to optimize the ferroelectric properties of oxide films.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Cai, Biyacaibiya@hotmail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-70709
Date: 5 September 2016
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Divisions: Ehemalige Fakultäten, Institute, Seminare > Erziehungswissenschaftliche Fakultät > Institut für Physik und ihre Didaktik
Subjects: Physics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Ferroelectric, thin films, strain engineering, stroichiometry variationEnglish
Date of oral exam: 4 November 2016
NameAcademic Title
Wördenweber, RogerProf. Dr.
Grüninger, MarkusProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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