Using spectroscopic ellipsometry we studied in-situ the growth of off-axis sputtered YBa2Cu3O6+x thin films on (001) SrTiO3 as a function of the deposition parameters. Especially in the very first growth stage (<5 nm) we observed that the optical properties of the grown layer differs from the “bulk” optical properties of YBCO and strongly depends on, both, the deposition temperature and the oxygen partial pressure. Both properties are well established as influencing the superconducting properties of thin YBCO films. YBCO thin film growth under optimal deposition conditions (Tc∼90 K; jc>106A cm−2@ 77 K) is smooth and homogeneous, except for the first unit cell layer (initial stage regime). The smoothness of the response is indicative for a step-mode like growth mechanism. In contrast, the initial stage regime is governed by a 2D nucleation mechanism. This behaviour changes when the deposition temperature is lowered. Due to increased disorder, the initial stage regime is extended to larger thicknesses and a true 2D growth mode is no longer apparent. Similar behaviour is observed with increasing oxygen partial pressure, where the optical response is shifted from a step-flow mode like mechanism to an island-growth mode.
- Sputtered YBCO thin-films
- Spectroscopic ellipsometry