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Evolution of the Interfacial Structure of LaAlO3 on SrTiO3

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2011
Author Pauli SA, Leake SJ, Delley B, Bjorck M, Schneider CW, Schleputz CM, Martoccia D, Paetel S, Mannhart J, Willmott PR,
Project Interfacial properties of perovskite thin films
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Volume (Issue) 106(3)
Page(s) 036101-1 - 036101-4
Title of proceedings PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS


The evolution of the atomic structure of LaAlO3 grown on SrTiO3 was investigated using surface x-ray diffraction in conjunction with model-independent, phase-retrieval algorithms between two and five monolayers film thickness. A depolarizing buckling is observed between cation and oxygen positions in response to the electric field of polar LaAlO3, which decreases with increasing film thickness. We explain this in terms of competition between elastic strain energy, electrostatic energy, and electronic reconstructions. Based on these structures, the threshold for formation of a two-dimensional electron system at a film thickness of 4 monolayers is quantitatively explained. The findings are also qualitatively reproduced by density-functional-theory calculations.