The ionic conductivity of LiI thin films grown on sapphire(0001) substrates has been studied in-situ during deposition as a function of film thickness and deposition conditions. LiI films were produced at room temperature by sublimation in an ultra-high-vacuum system. The conductivity of the LiI parallel to the film/substrate interface was determined from frequency-dependent impedance measurements as a function of film thickness using Au interdigital electrodes deposited on the sapphire surface. The measurements show a conduction of ~5 times the bulk value at the interface which gradually decreases as the film thickness is increased beyond 100 nm. This interfacial enhancement is not stable but anneals out with a characteristic log of time dependence. Fully annealed films have an activation energy for conduction (σT) of ~0.47 ±.03 eV, consistent with bulk measurements. The observed annealing behavior can be fit with a model based on dislocation motion which implies that the increase in conduction near the interface is not due to the formation of a space-charge layer as previously reported but to defects generated during the growth process. This explanation is consistent with the behavior exhibited by CaF2 films grown under similar conditions.
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Lubben, D., Modine, F.A. Enhanced Ionic Conduction at the Film/Substrate Interface in LiI Thin Films Grown on Sapphire(0001). MRS Online Proceedings Library 318, 445–450 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-318-445