Ultrathin superconducting YBa2Cu3O7, films were grown on (100) YSZ (yttria-stabilized-zirconia) substrates by off-axis if magnetron sputtering at a relatively high deposition rate. The structure, orientation, and morphology of the films were examined by x-ray diffraction, reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED), and scanning electron microscopy. X-ray diffraction patterns of films deposited on YSZ substrates exhibited strong c-axis alignment with the YBa2Cu3O7 peaks sharpening as the film thickness was increased. The degree of epitaxy apparent in RHEED photographs was found to increase dramatically as the film thickness was increased from 12 nm to 108 nm. This behavior is attributed to a nucleation and growth process in which epitaxy develops as a result of a 3 stage progression from a random to an oriented film.
The films were in-situ superconducting, exhibiting superconducting transition temperatures, Tc(0)'s, of 80 K for a 12 nm film and 88 K for a 280 nm film. However, the relatively low critical current densities (Jc < 1 × 106 A/cm2) at 77 K are probably due to a lack of in-plane epitaxy.