Microstructure and superconducting performance of YBa2Cu3O7 (YBCO) films deposited on LaAlO3 single crystal (LAO) substrates by a fluorine-free metal-organic deposition (FF-MOD) technique, have been studied by means of X-ray reciprocal space mapping (RSM), cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and magneto-optical (MO) imaging. Combining the X-ray diffraction and the TEM cross-sectional analysis, it is revealed that stacking faults, i.e. YBa2Cu4Ox intergrowths, and ab-plane twins are main defects in the FF-MOD YBCO films. Due to the highly epitaxial growth mechanism related to transient liquid phase, the LAO twinned substrate structure is also inherited in the FF-YBCO films. The low-density planar defects containing dislocations parallel to c-axis result in stripy patterns observed in the MO images. For comparison, the low-fluorine (LF) MOD film show a texture mosaic spread in the ab plane and is little influenced by the LAO twinning underneath, implying the severe structural disorder most likely associated with the large amount of small-angle grain boundaries. Moreover, the higher density of stacking faults was also detected by XRD θ-2θ, scan in the LF-MOD film. It is suggested that associated partial dislocations formed at the boundary between the stacking faults and YBCO matrix act as strong linear (or dot) pinning centers. These structural characteristics are well in line with the better superconducting performance of the low fluorine-MOD film, in particular under external magnetic field at 77 K. This work offers an in-depth insight into the correlation between the microstructure and superconductivity in the MOD YBCO films.
- Superconducting films
- Epitaxial growth
- Metal-organic deposition
- Transmission electron microscopy
- Magneto-optical imaging