Creating oxide interfaces with precise chemical specificity at the atomic layer level is desired for the engineering of quantum phases and electronic applications, but highly challenging, owing partially to the lack of in situ tools to monitor the chemical composition and completeness of the surface layer during growth. Here we report the in situ observation of atomic layer-by-layer inner potential variations by analysing the Kikuchi lines during epitaxial growth of strontium titanate, providing a powerful real-time technique to monitor and control the chemical composition during growth. A model combining the effects of mean inner potential and step edge density (roughness) reveals the underlying mechanism of the complex and previously not well-understood reflection high-energy electron diffraction oscillations observed in the shuttered growth of oxide films. General rules are proposed to guide the synthesis of atomically and chemically sharp oxide interfaces, opening up vast opportunities for the exploration of intriguing quantum phenomena at oxide interfaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)