Anisotropic chemical expansion due to oxygen vacancies in perovskite films
In scientifically intriguing and technologically important multifunctional ABO3 perovskite oxides, oxygen vacancies are most common defects. They cause lattice expansion and can alter the key functional properties. Here, it is demonstrated that contrary to weak isotropic expansion in bulk samples, oxygen vacancies produce strong anisotropic strain in epitaxial thin films. This anisotropic chemical strain is explained by preferential orientation of elastic dipoles of the vacancies. Elastic interaction of the dipoles with substrate-imposed misfit strain is suggested to define the dipolar orientation. Such elastic behavior of oxygen vacancies is anticipated to be general for perovskite films and have critical impacts on the film synthesis and response functions.