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Thickness evolution of the twin structure and shear strain in LSMO films

AuthorsSantiso, José ; Balcells, Lluis ; Konstantinović, Z.; Roqueta, Jaume ; Ferrer, Pilar ; Pomar, Alberto ; Martínez Perea, Benjamín ; Sandiumenge, Felip
Issue Date2013
PublisherRoyal Society of Chemistry (UK)
CitationCrystEngComm 15(19): 3908-3918 (2013)
AbstractX-ray diffraction analysis and orientation contrast scanning electron microscopy imaging of La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 epitaxial layers grown on (001)-SrTiO3 substrates have been used to track the shear strain and twin domain period as a function of the thickness of the films, t. To this end, the diffraction by a periodically modulated twinned structure is analyzed in detail. In contrast with current equilibrium models, here we demonstrate the occurrence of a critical thickness, tτ ∼ 2.0-2.5 nm, for twin formation in rhombohedral perovskite films. The absence of twinning below tτ is explained by the formation of a monoclinic interfacial phase presumably driven by electronic interactions between film and substrate not taken into account in theoretical models. Above tτ, twin domains develop concomitantly with the build-up of misfit shear strains associated with the formation of the rhombohedral structure. At a thickness ∼10 nm, the in-plane and out-of-plane shear strain components exhibit similar values, as imposed by the rhombohedral symmetry. However, upon increasing the film thickness, both strain components are found to follow divergent trajectories indicating a progressive perturbation of the octahedral framework which allows the in-plane lattice parameters to remain fully strained within the explored thickness range (up to 475 nm). Despite these structural perturbations, the twin size follows a t1/2 dependence as predicted for homogeneous films by equilibrium models. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1039/C3CE40085A
e-issn: 1466-8033
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