skip to main content

Title: Probing surfaces and interfaces in complex oxide films via in situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
Abstract Emergent behavior at oxide interfaces has driven research in complex oxide films for the past 20 years. Interfaces have been engineered for applications in spintronics, topological quantum computing, and high-speed electronics with properties not observed in bulk materials. Advances in synthesis have made the growth of these interfaces possible, while X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies have often explained the observed interfacial phenomena. This review discusses leading recent research, focusing on key results and the XPS studies that enabled them. We describe how the in situ integration of synthesis and spectroscopy improves the growth process and accelerates scientific discovery. Specific techniques include determination of interfacial intermixing, valence band alignment, and interfacial charge transfer. A recurring theme is the role that atmospheric exposure plays on material properties, which we highlight in several material systems. We demonstrate how synchrotron studies have answered questions that are impossible in lab-based systems and how to improve such experiments in the future.
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Materials Research
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
26 to 51
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Water/oxide interfaces are ubiquitous on earth and show significant influence on many chemical processes. For example, understanding water and solute adsorption as well as catalytic water splitting can help build better fuel cells and solar cells to overcome our looming energy crisis; the interaction between biomolecules and water/oxide interfaces is one hypothesis to explain the origin of life. However, knowledge in this area is still limited due to the difficulty of studying water/solid interfaces. As a result, research using increasingly sophisticated experimental techniques and computational simulations has been carried out in recent years. Although it is difficult for experimental techniques to provide detailed microscopic structural information, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations have satisfactory performance. In this review, we discuss classical and ab initio MD simulations of water/oxide interfaces. Generally, we are interested in the following questions: How do solid surfaces perturb interfacial water structure? How do interfacial water molecules and adsorbed solutes affect solid surfaces and how do interfacial environments affect solvent and solute behavior? Finally, we discuss progress in the application of neural network potential based MD simulations, which offer a promising future because this approach has already enabled ab initio level accuracy for very large systems and longmore »trajectories.

    This article is categorized under:

    Theoretical and Physical Chemistry > Spectroscopy

    Molecular and Statistical Mechanics > Molecular Interactions

    Structure and Mechanism > Molecular Structures

    « less
  2. Nanocrystalline MnFe2O4 has shown promise as a catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline solutions, but the material has been sparingly studied as highly ordered thin-film catalysts. To examine the role of surface termination and Mn and Fe site occupancy, epitaxial MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4 spinel oxide films were grown on (001)- and (111)-oriented Nb:SrTiO3 perovskite substrates using molecular beam epitaxy and studied as electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). High-resolution X-ray diffraction (HRXRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) show the synthesis of pure phase materials, while scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) analysis demonstrate island-like growth of (111) surface-terminated pyramids on both (001)- and (111)-oriented substrates, consistent with the literature and attributed to the lattice mismatch between the spinel films and the perovskite substrate. Cyclic voltammograms under a N2 atmosphere revealed distinct redox features for Mn and Fe surface termination based on comparison of MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4. Under an O2 atmosphere, electrocatalytic reduction of oxygen was observed at both Mn and Fe redox features; however, a diffusion-limited current was only achieved at potentials consistent with Fe reduction. This result contrasts with that of nanocrystalline MnFe2O4 reported in the literature where the diffusion-limitedmore »current is achieved with Mn-based catalysis. This difference is attributed to a low density of Mn surface termination, as determined by the integration of current from CVs collected under N2, in addition to low conductivity through the MnFe2O4 film due to the degree of inversion. Such low densities are attributed to the synthetic method and island-like growth pattern and highlight challenges in studying ORR catalysis with single-crystal spinel materials.« less
  3. Biomimetic synaptic processes, which are imitated by functional memory devices in the computer industry, are a key focus of artificial intelligence (AI) research. It is critical to developing a memory technology that is compatible with Brain-Inspired Computing in order to eliminate the von Neumann bottleneck that restricts the efficiency of traditional computer designs. Due to restrictions such as high operation voltage, poor retention capacity, and high power consumption, silicon-based flash memory, which presently dominates the data storage devices market, is having difficulty meeting the requirements of future data storage device development. The developing resistive random-access memory (RRAM) has sparked intense investigation because of its simple two-terminal structure: two electrodes and a switching layer. RRAM has a resistive switching phenomenon which is a cycling behavior between the high resistance state and the low resistance state. This developing device type is projected to outperform traditional memory devices. Indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) has attracted great attention for the RRAM switching layer because of its high transparency and high atomic diffusion property of oxygen atoms. More importantly, by controlling the oxygen ratio in the sputter gas, its electrical properties can be easily tuned. The IGZO has been applied to the thin-film transistor (TFT),more »thus, it is very promising to integrate RRAM with TFT. In this work, we proposed IGZO-based RRAMs. ITO was chosen as the bottom electrode towards achieving a fully transparent memristor. And for the IGZO switching layer, we varied the O2/Ar ratio during the deposition to modify the oxygen vacancy of IGZO. Through the XPS measurement, we confirmed that the higher O2/Ar ratio can lower the oxygen vacancy concentration. We also chose ITO as the top electrode, for the comparison, two active metals copper and silver were tested for the top electrode materials. For our IGZO layer, the best ratio of O2/Ar is the middle value. And copper top electrode device has the most stable cycling switching and the silver one is perfect for large memory window, however, it encounters a stability issue. The optical transmission examination was performed using a UV-Vis spectrometer, and the average transmittance of the complete devices in the visible-light wavelength range was greater than 90%, indicating good transparency. 50nm, 100nm, and 150nm RS layers of IGZO RRAM were produced to explore the thickness dependency on the characteristics of the RS layer. Also, because the oxygen vacancy concentration influences the RS and RRAM performance, the oxygen partial pressure during IGZO sputtering was modified to maximize the property. Electrode selection is critical and can have a significant influence on the device's overall performance. As a result, Cu TE was chosen for our second type of device because Cu ion diffusion can aid in the development of conductive filaments (CF). Finally, between the TE and RS layers, a 5 nm SiO2 barrier layer was used to limit Cu penetration into the RS layer. Simultaneously, this SiO2 inserting layer can offer extra interfacial series resistance in the device, lowering the off current and, as a result, improving the on/off ratio and overall performance. In conclusion, transparent IGZO-based RRAMs have been created. The thickness of the RS layer and the sputtering conditions of the RS layer were modified to tailor the property of the RS layer. A series of TE materials and a barrier layer were incorporated into an IGZO-based RRAM and the performance was evaluated in order to design the TE material's diffusion capabilities to the RS layer and the BE. Our positive findings show that IGZO is a potential material for RRAM applications and overcoming the existing memory technology limitation.« less
  4. Abstract

    The properties of technical ceramics are highly dependent on their microstructure, which evolves during sintering. Sintering is the process by which ceramic parts are subjected to high temperatures to activate chemical diffusion and the consumption of porosity. During the initial stage of sintering, interparticle necks between neighboring particles form and subsequently increase in size, consuming porosity as the particle centers move closer together. To experimentally determine how this process depends on particle surface composition, particle atomic layer deposition (ALD) was used to deposit a thin film of amorphous aluminum oxide (Al2O3) onto yttria‐stabilized tetragonal zirconia (3YSZ) particles, producing core‐shell structured powders. The uniformity of the Al2O3film was confirmed with transmission electron microscopy and energy dispersive spectroscopy. Scanning electron microscopy was used to observe microstructural evolution during sintering, and the dihedral angles of Al2O3and 3YSZ grains were measured to determine the ratio of interfacial energies between the 3YSZ|3YSZ, 3YSZ|Al2O3, and Al2O3|Al2O3interfaces. Analysis of the densification kinetics revealed that the initial stage of densification is dependent on the material at the surface of the particles (ie, the Al2O3film) and is controlled by the diffusion of Al3+cations through Al2O3. Once the Al2O3film has coalesced, the sintering behavior is controlled by the densificationmore »of the core material (3YSZ). Thus, core‐shell powders fabricated by particle ALD sinter by a two‐step process where the kinetics are dependent on the material present at interparticle contacts.

    « less
  5. Epitaxial growth of κ-phase Ga 2 O 3 thin films is investigated on c-plane sapphire, GaN- and AlN-on-sapphire, and (100) oriented yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) substrates via metalorganic chemical vapor deposition. The structural and surface morphological properties are investigated by comprehensive material characterization. Phase pure κ-Ga 2 O 3 films are successfully grown on GaN-, AlN-on-sapphire, and YSZ substrates through a systematical tuning of growth parameters including the precursor molar flow rates, chamber pressure, and growth temperature, whereas the growth on c-sapphire substrates leads to a mixture of β- and κ-polymorphs of Ga 2 O 3 under the investigated growth conditions. The influence of the crystalline structure, surface morphology, and roughness of κ-Ga 2 O 3 films grown on different substrates are investigated as a function of precursor flow rate. High-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy imaging of κ-Ga 2 O 3 films reveals abrupt interfaces between the epitaxial film and the sapphire, GaN, and YSZ substrates. The growth of single crystal orthorhombic κ-Ga 2 O 3 films is confirmed by analyzing the scanning transmission electron microscopy nanodiffraction pattern. The chemical composition, surface stoichiometry, and bandgap energies of κ-Ga 2 O 3 thin films grown on different substrates are studied bymore »high-resolution x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements. The type-II (staggered) band alignments at three interfaces between κ-Ga 2 O 3 and c-sapphire, AlN, and YSZ substrates are determined by XPS, with an exception of κ-Ga 2 O 3 /GaN interface, which shows type-I (straddling) band alignment.« less