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Synthesis of freestanding single-crystal perovskite films and heterostructures by etching of sacrificial water-soluble layers


The ability to create and manipulate materials in two-dimensional (2D) form has repeatedly had transformative impact on science and technology. In parallel with the exfoliation and stacking of intrinsically layered crystals1,2,3,4,5, atomic-scale thin film growth of complex materials has enabled the creation of artificial 2D heterostructures with novel functionality6,7,8,9 and emergent phenomena, as seen in perovskite heterostructures10,11,12. However, separation of these layers from the growth substrate has proved challenging, limiting the manipulation capabilities of these heterostructures with respect to exfoliated materials. Here we present a general method to create freestanding perovskite membranes. The key is the epitaxial growth of water-soluble Sr3Al2O6 on perovskite substrates, followed by in situ growth of films and heterostructures. Millimetre-size single-crystalline membranes are produced by etching the Sr3Al2O6 layer in water, providing the opportunity to transfer them to arbitrary substrates and integrate them with heterostructures of semiconductors and layered compounds13,14.

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Figure 1: Crystal structure and epitaxial growth of Sr3Al2O6.
Figure 2: Sr3Al2O6 surface structure.
Figure 3: Synthesis of freestanding perovskite membranes.
Figure 4: Crystalline structure of epitaxial membrane films before and after release.
Figure 5: Magnetic and electrical properties of La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 single-layer and SL films before and after release.


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This work was supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, under contract DE-AC02-76SF00515 (heterostructure synthesis); the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s EPiQS Initiative through Grant GBMF4415 (development of release and transfer processes); and the Cornell Center for Materials Research with funding from the NSF MRSEC programme DMR-1120296 (electron microscopy).

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Authors and Affiliations



D.L. and S.S.H. fabricated and characterized the epitaxial heterostructures and freestanding membranes. D.J.B. and L.F.K. measured and analysed the STEM data. D.L., Y.H. and H.Y.H. designed the experiment and wrote the manuscript, with input from all authors.

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Correspondence to Yasuyuki Hikita or Harold Y. Hwang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Lu, D., Baek, D., Hong, S. et al. Synthesis of freestanding single-crystal perovskite films and heterostructures by etching of sacrificial water-soluble layers. Nature Mater 15, 1255–1260 (2016).

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