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Out-of-phase boundaries (OPBs) are translation boundary defects characterized by a misregistry of a fraction of a unit cell dimension in neighboring regions of a crystal. Although rarely observed in the bulk, they are common in epitaxial films of complex crystals due to the physical constraint of the underlying substrate and a low degree of structural rearrangement during growth. OPBs can strongly affect properties, but no extensive studies of them are available. The morphology, structure, and nucleation mechanisms of OPBs in epitaxial films of layered complex oxides are presented with a review of published studies and new work. Morphological trends in two families of layered oxide phases are described. The atomic structure at OPBs is presented. OPBs may be introduced into a film during growth via the primary mechanisms that occur at film nucleation (steric, nucleation layer, a-bmisfit, and inclined-cmisfit) or after growth via the secondary nucleation mechanism (crystallographic shear in response to loss of a volatile component). Mechanism descriptions are accompanied by experimental examples. Alternative methods to the direct imaging of OPBs are also presented.
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