Measuring the three-dimensional structure of ultrathin insulating films at the atomic scale

Susanne Baumann, Ileana G. Rau, Sebastian Loth, Christopher P. Lutz, Andreas J. Heinrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

The increasing technological importance of thin insulating layers calls for a thorough understanding of their structure. Here we apply scanning probe methods to investigate the structure of ultrathin magnesium oxide (MgO) which is the insulating material of choice in spintronic applications. A combination of force and current measurements gives high spatial resolution maps of the local three-dimensional insulator structure. When force measurements are not available, a lower spatial resolution can be obtained from tunneling images at different voltages. These broadly applicable techniques reveal a previously unknown complexity in the structure of MgO on Ag(001), such as steps in the insulator-metal interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1744
Number of pages6
JournalACS Nano
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2014

Keywords

  • atomic force microscopy
  • conductive AFM
  • magnesium oxide
  • scanning tunneling microscopy
  • thickness determination
  • thin insulating films
  • thin oxide films

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