M. Coll Bau, J. Gazquez Alabart, A. Palau Masoliver, M Varela, X. Obradors and T. Puig
Chemistry of Materials, 24, 3723 (2012)
Highly epitaxial and pure (001) CeO2 ultrathin films have been prepared by atomic layer deposition (ALD) at 275 °C on Y-stabilized ZrO2 cubic fluorite single crystal substrate using cerium β-diketonate (Ce(thd)4) and ozone (O3) as precursors. Substrate temperature and precursor pulses have been optimized to set the ALD window obtaining a growth per cycle of ≈0.2 Å/cycle. This extremely low growth rate has been identified as a key parameter to ensure epitaxial growth at these low temperatures. Post-thermal treatments at 900 °C in oxygen further improve ALD-CeO2 film texture while maintaining film stoichiometry and ultrasmooth surface, rms < 0.4 nm. ALD-CeO2 thin film growth has also been tested on perovskite single crystal substrates, SrTiO3 and LaAlO3, exhibiting CeO2 epitaxial growth and thus validating ALD as an outstanding method for low temperature epitaxial growth. Furthermore, we demonstrate that by combining e-beam lithography and ALD it is feasible to obtain size-controlled CeO2 nanostructures.