Defect-induced magnetism and transport phenomena in epitaxial oxides

Change log
Schoofs, Frank 

This work focuses on the impact of defects, intrinsic or artificially introduced, on the functional properties of thin, epitaxial oxide films. In the first part, the origin of the ferromagnetic properties of Mn-doped and undoped zinc oxide is studied. The deposition conditions are found to have a significant impact on the structural, transport and magnetic properties of the thin films. Combining x-ray magnetic circular dichroism and magnetometry experiments, it is established that the transition metal dopants (i.e. Mn) have no influence on the ferromagnetic nature of the zinc oxide, but that localised magnetic moments on intrinsic defects are in fact responsible for the ferromagnetic behaviour. A relation between strain (related to defect concentration) and magnetisation is established. In the second part of this dissertation, artificially introduced defects are employed in order to discover the fundamental conduction mechanism behind the two-dimensionally conductive LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface. All experiments, from varying deposition temperature, to oxygen pressure, to laser fluence or to the insertion of (doped) perovskite layers, point towards a structurally governed conduction mechanism, although the exact details are still unclear. Distinct transitions in the resistance versus temperature curves are observed at different values than the bulk phase transformation temperature. These transitions form the boundaries of different conduction modes, with tendencies towards non-Fermi-liquid behaviour observed in certain two-dimensionally conducting samples in limited temperature regimes. By optimising the (defect) structure at the interface, i.e. by introducing a single unit cell of (La0.5,Sr0.5)TiO3 or SnTiO3, it is shown that the sheet carrier density can be dramatically enhanced, up to an order of magnitude higher than unmodified LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interfaces with a value of 1e14 cm−2 at 200 K. Finally, attempts at functionalising the conductive heterointerface by doping and inserting (anti)ferromagnetic layers are made.

Oxide, Thin film
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge