Studies on dislocations in prototypic binary and ternary oxides (here TiO2 and SrTiO3) using modern TEM and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques, combined with classical etch pits methods, are reviewed. Our review focuses on the important role of dislocations in [...] Read more.
Studies on dislocations in prototypic binary and ternary oxides (here TiO2
) using modern TEM and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques, combined with classical etch pits methods, are reviewed. Our review focuses on the important role of dislocations in the insulator-to-metal transition and for redox processes, which can be preferentially induced along dislocations using chemical and electrical gradients. It is surprising that, independently of the growth techniques, the density of dislocations in the surface layers of both prototypical oxides is high (109
for epipolished surfaces and up to 1012
for the rough surface). The TEM and locally-conducting atomic force microscopy (LCAFM) measurements show that the dislocations create a network with the character of a hierarchical tree. The distribution of the dislocations in the plane of the surface is, in principle, inhomogeneous, namely a strong tendency for the bundling and creation of arrays or bands in the crystallographic <100> and <110> directions can be observed. The analysis of the core of dislocations using scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) techniques (such as EDX with atomic resolution, electron-energy loss spectroscopy (EELS)) shows unequivocally that the core of dislocations possesses a different crystallographic structure, electronic structure and chemical composition relative to the matrix. Because the Burgers vector of dislocations is per se
invariant, the network of dislocations (with additional d1
electrons) causes an electrical short-circuit of the matrix. This behavior is confirmed by LCAFM measurements for the stoichiometric crystals, moreover a similar dominant role of dislocations in channeling of the current after thermal reduction of the crystals or during resistive switching can be observed. In our opinion, the easy transformation of the chemical composition of the surface layers of both model oxides should be associated with the high concentration of extended defects in this region. Another important insight for the analysis of the physical properties in real oxide crystals (matrix + dislocations) comes from the studies of the nucleation of dislocations via in situ STEM indentation, namely that the dislocations can be simply nucleated under mechanical stimulus and can be easily moved at room temperature.