Semiconductor Physics, Quantum Electronics & Optoelectronics, 26 (4), P. 398-407 (2023).

The influence of substrate temperature on the structure and optical properties of NiO thin films deposited using the magnetron sputtering in the layer-by-layer growth regime

A.I. Ievtushenko 1*, V.A. Karpyna 1, O.I. Bykov 1, M.V. Dranchuk 1, O.F. Kolomys 2, D.M. Maziar 2, V.V. Strelchuk 2, S.P. Starik 3, V.A. Baturin 4, О.Y. Karpenko 4, O.S. Lytvyn 5

1 I. Frantsevich Institute for Problems of Materials Science, NAS of Ukraine, 03142 Kyiv, Ukraine
2 V. Lashkaryov Institute of Semiconductor Physics, NAS of Ukraine, 03680 Kyiv, Ukraine
3 V. Bakul Institute for Superhard Materials, NAS of Ukraine, 04074 Kyiv, Ukraine
4 Institute of Applied Physics, NAS of Ukraine, 40000 Sumy, Ukraine
5 Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, 04053 Kyiv, Ukraine
* Corresponding author e-mail:

Abstract. Vanadium oxide (VO x ) thin films are promising materials, exhibiting electrical, optical, and mechanical properties highly tunable by processing and structure. This work uniquely applying atomic force microscopy (AFM) nanoindentation correlated with X-ray diffractometry and Raman spectroscopy structural analysis to investigate the intricate connections between VO x post-annealing, phase composition, and resulting nanoscale mechanical functionality. Utilizing an ultra-sharp diamond tip as a nanoscale indenter, indentation is performed on VO x films with systematic variations in structure – from mixed insulating oxides to VO 2 -dominated films. Analytical modeling enables extraction of hardness and elastic modulus with nanoscale resolution. Dramatic mechanical property variations are observed between compositions, with order-of-magnitude increases in hardness and elastic modulus for the VO 2 -rich films versus insulating oxides. Ion implantation further enhances nanomechanical performance through targeted defect engineering. Correlating indentation-derived trends with detailed structural and morphological characterization elucidates explicit structure-property relationships inaccessible by other techniques. The approach provides critical mechanics-driven insights into links between VO x synthesis, structure evolution, and property development. Broader implementation will accelerate processing optimization for electronics and advanced fundamental understanding of nanoscale structure-functionality relationships

Keywords:polycrystalline vanadium oxide thin films, phase composition, atomic force microscopy, nanoindentation, X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, defect engineering, ion implantation

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