"Aspects of the synthesis of thin film superconducting infinite-layer nickelates"

Kyuho Lee: Berit H. Goodge, Danfeng Li, Motoki Osada, Bai Yang Wang, Yi Cui, Lena F. Kourkoutis, Harold Y. Hwang; APL Materials, 04/09/21.

Additional Authors: Berit H. Goodge, Danfeng Li, Motoki Osada, Bai Yang Wang, Yi Cui, Lena F. Kourkoutis, Harold Y. Hwang

Abstract:

 The recent observation of superconductivity in Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 calls for further investigation and optimization of the synthesis of this infinite-layer nickelate structure. Here, we present our current understanding of important aspects of the growth of the parent perovskite compound via pulsed laser deposition on SrTiO3 (001) substrates and the subsequent topotactic reduction. We find that to achieve single-crystalline, single-phase superconducting Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2, it is essential that the precursor perovskite Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO3 thin film is stabilized with no visible impurity phases; in particular, a Ruddlesden–Popper-type secondary phase is often observed. We have further investigated the evolution of the soft-chemistry topotactic reduction conditions to realize full transformation to the infinite-layer structure with no film decomposition or formation of other phases. We find that capping the nickelate film with a subsequent SrTiO3 layer provides an epitaxial template to the top region of the nickelate film, much like the substrate. Thus, for currently optimized growth conditions, we can stabilize superconducting single-phase Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 (001) epitaxial thin films up to ∼10 nm.