Engineering metal oxidation using epitaxial strain

Sreejith Nair, Zhifei Yang, Dooyong Lee, Silu Guo, Jerzy T. Sadowski, Spencer Johnson, Abdul Saboor, Yan Li, Hua Zhou, Ryan B. Comes, Wencan Jin, K. Andre Mkhoyan, Anderson Janotti, Bharat Jalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The oxides of platinum group metals are promising for future electronics and spintronics due to the delicate interplay of spin-orbit coupling and electron correlation energies. However, their synthesis as thin films remains challenging due to their low vapour pressures and low oxidation potentials. Here we show how epitaxial strain can be used as a control knob to enhance metal oxidation. Using Ir as an example, we demonstrate the use of epitaxial strain in engineering its oxidation chemistry, enabling phase-pure Ir or IrO2 films despite using identical growth conditions. The observations are explained using a density-functional-theory-based modified formation enthalpy framework, which highlights the important role of metal-substrate epitaxial strain in governing the oxide formation enthalpy. We also validate the generality of this principle by demonstrating epitaxial strain effect on Ru oxidation. The IrO2 films studied in our work further revealed quantum oscillations, attesting to the excellent film quality. The epitaxial strain approach we present could enable growth of oxide films of hard-to-oxidize elements using strain engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1011
Number of pages7
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


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