In-situ imaging of the nucleation and growth of epitaxial anatase TiO2(001) films on SrTiO3(001)
Du Y, DJ Kim, TC Kaspar, SE Chamberlin, I Lyubinetsky, and SA Chambers. 2012. "In-situ imaging of the nucleation and growth of epitaxial anatase TiO2(001) films on SrTiO3(001)." Surface Science 606(17-18):1443-1449. doi:10.1016/j.susc.2012.05.010
The growth of TiO2 anatase films on Nb doped SrTiO3(001) by oxygen-assisted molecular beam epitaxy has been studied in-situ by scanning tunneling microscopy. We show that the initial growth follows the Stranski-Krastanov mode, where islands form on top of a wetting layer consisting of two monolayers (ML) of TiO2. The epitaxial islands subsequently nucleate and coalescence into large commonly-oriented crystallites. The (4x4) reconstruction observed by reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) is shown to result from the coexistence of individual (4x1) and (1x4) reconstructions present on different crystallite surfaces. The anatase grows in units of bilayers, resulting in a step height of 2 ML (~0.5 nm). This result explains the fact that the measured period of the RHEED specular-beam intensity oscillations corresponds to the time required for deposition of 2 ML. Ar ion sputtering and UHV annealing results in a transformation to coexisting (4x1) and (1x4) reconstructed terraces on individual crystallites, as commonly observed by ex-situ STM studies.