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Characterization of three-dimensional grain boundary topography in a YBa2Cu3O7-d thin film bicrystal grown on a SrTiO3 substrate

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4 Author(s)
Ayache, J. ; CSNSM-CNRS, Université Paris XI-Orsay, 91405 Orsay, France ; Thorel, A. ; Lesueur, J. ; Dahmen, U.

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The topography and crystallography of YBa2Cu3O7-d (YBCO) bicrystal films grown epitaxially on oriented SrTiO3 (STO) bicrystals have been characterized by scanning and transmission electron microscopies (SEM and TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The YBCO films were formed by laser ablation on melt-grown Σ13 STO bicrystals with a misorientation of 24° around the <001> tilt axis. In agreement with previous reports, TEM analysis revealed that the grain boundary in the film did not always follow the planar substrate grain boundary faithfully, but undulated about the average boundary plane. High resolution electron microscopy observations of the apparently complex undulating boundary structures could be explained as a result of an overlap between different orientation variants of the orthorhombic YBCO film. Cross correlation between SEM, AFM, and TEM imaging gave a clear evidence that an island growth mechanism is responsible for the observed grain boundary structure and morphology for which a schematic model is presented. It is seen that meandering of the YBCO grain boundary (GB) is necessarily coupled to a wide range of inclination of the GB plane in the z direction. The implications of this interfacial structure for the behavior of GB based Josephson junctions are discussed and compared to models proposed in the literature. It is also seen that inclination of the GB may be responsible for the poor correlation usually found in the literature between calculations and experimental curves of current density Jc versus the GB angle since the most elaborate models proposed up to now take into account only pure tilt GB plane facets, that is to say facets in the zone of the tilt axis. Moreover, such a GB structu- re may affect the interpretation of recent phase sensitive experiments done on bicrystal or tricrystal high Tc superconductors to determine the symmetry of the order parameter. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:84 ,  Issue: 9 )