Template Directed Growth of Nb doped SrTiO₃ using Pulsed Laser Deposition

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Virginia Tech


Oxide materials display a wide range of physical properties. Recently, doped complex oxides have drawn considerable attention for various applications including thermoelectrics. Doped complex oxide materials have high Seebeck coefficients (S) and electrical conductivities (o) comparable to other doped semiconductors but low thermoelectric figure of merit ZT values due to their poor thermal conductivities. For example, niobium doped strontium titanate (SrNbxTi1-xO₃ or simply Nb:STO) has a power factor comparable to that of bismuth telluride. Semiconductor nanostructures have demonstrated a decrease in thermal conductivity (κ) resulting in an increase in the thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT). Nanostructures of doped oxides like niobium doped strontium titanate, may also lead to decreased κ and a corresponding increase in ZT. The major impediment to nanostructured oxide thermoelectric materials is the lack of suitable fabrication techniques for testing and eventual use. Electron Beam Lithography (EBL) was used to pattern poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA) resists on undoped single crystalline SrTiO₃ (STO) substrates which were then filled with Nb:STO using Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) at room temperature. This technique produced nanowires and nanodots with critical dimensions below 100 nm, and a yield of approximately 95%. In addition to scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy morphological studies of the patterned oxide, thin film analogues were used to study composition, crystallinity and electrical conductivity of the material in response to a post deposition heat treatment. Since the thin films were grown under similar experimental parameters as the oxide nanostructres, the patterned oxides are believed to be stoichiometric and highly crystalline. The study found that using a combination of EBL and PLD, it is possible to produce highly crystalline, doped complex oxide nanostructures with excellent control over morphology. Furthermore, the technique is applicable to nearly all materials and provides the capability of patterning doped oxide materials without the requirement of etching or multiple lithography steps makes this approach especially interesting for future fundamental materials research and novel device fabrication.



Pulsed Laser Deposition, Electron Beam Lithography, Oxide nano-patterning