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Aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy is used to directly observe atom columns in an epitaxial BaTiOthin film deposited on a 3.6 nm-thick SrRuOelectrode layer above an SrTiO (001) substrate. Compositional gradients across the heterointerfaces were examined using electron energy-loss spectroscopy techniques. It was found that a small amount of Ba and Ti had diffused into the SrRuO layer, and that this layer contained a non-negligible concentration of oxygen vacancies. Such point defects are expected to degrade the electrode’s electronic conductivity drastically, resulting in a much longer screening length. This may explain the discrepancy between experimental measurements and theoretical estimates of the ferroelectric critical thickness of a BaTiOferroelectric barrier sandwiched between metallic SrRuOelectrodes, since theoretical calculations generally assume ideal (stoichiometric) perovskite SrRuO.


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