Nanometer-Scale Striped Surface Terminations on Fractured SrTiO3 Surfaces

ROM 2011-11
Author: Nathan P. Guisinger, Tiffany S. Santos, Jeffrey R. Guest, Te-Yu Chien, Anand Bhattacharya, John W. Freeland, Matthias Bode
Institute: Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois, USA
Publication: ACSNano, Vol. 3 No. 12 Guisinger et. al.
Instrument: VT SPM

Using cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy on in situ fractured SrTiO3, one of the most commonly used substrates for the growth of complex oxide thin films and superlattices, atomically smooth terraces have been observed on (001) surfaces. Furthermore, it was discovered that fracturing this material at room temperature results in the formation of stripe patterned domains having characteristic widths (~10 to ~20 nm) of alternating surface terminations that extend over a long range. Spatial characterization utilizing spectroscopy techniques revealed a strong contrast in the electronic structure of the two domains. Combining these results with topographic data, we are able to assign both TiO2 and SrO terminations to their respective domains. The results of this experiment reveal that fracturing this material leads to reproducibly flat surfaces that can be characterized at the atomic-scale and suggest that this technique can be utilized for the study of technologically relevant complex oxide interfaces.