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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Large electropositive cations as surfactants for the growth of polar epitaxial films Cheung, Alfred Ka Chun


Using density functional theory (DFT) we demonstrate that the adsorption of large cations such as potassium or cesium facilitates the epitaxial growth of polar LaAlO₃ (LAO) on SrTiO₃ (STO). The low ionization potential of K favors efficient electron transfer to the STO conduction band and results in a 2D electron gas which exactly compensates for the diverging potential with increasing layer thickness. For large cations like K or Cs, DFT total energy considerations show that they remain adsorbed on the LAO surface and do not enter substitutionally into LAO. These results suggest a novel scheme for growing clean LAO/STO interface systems, and polar systems in general, by performing the growth process in the presence of large, low ionization potential alkali metal ions.

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