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Amorphous tantala (a-TaO) is a technologically important material often used in high-performance coatings. Understanding this material at the atomic level provides a way to further improve performance. This work details extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements of a-TaO coatings, where high-quality experimental data and theoretical fits have allowed a detailed interpretation of the nearest-neighbor distributions. It was found that the tantalum atom is surrounded by four shells of atoms in sequence; oxygen, tantalum, oxygen, and tantalum. A discussion is also included on how these models can be interpreted within the context of published crystalline Ta O and other a-TO studies.


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