Epitaxially grown LiNbO3 thin films by polymeric precursor method
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LiNbO3 thin films were grown on (0001) sapphire substrates by a chemical route, using the polymeric precursor method. The overall process consists of preparing a coating solution from the Pechini process, based on metallic citrate polymerization, the precursor films, deposited by dip coating, are then heat treated to eliminate the organic material and to synthesize the phase. In this work, we studied the influence of the heat treatment on the structural and optical properties of single-layered films. Two routes were also investigated to increase the film thickness: increasing the viscosity of the coating solution and/or increasing the number of successively deposited layers. The x-ray diffraction theta -2 theta scans revealed the c-axis orientation of the single- and multilayered films and showed that efficient crystallization can be obtained at temperatures as low as 400 degreesC, the phi-scan diffraction evidenced the epitaxial growth with two in-plane variants, A microstructural study revealed that the films were crack free, homogeneous, and relatively dense. Finally, the investigation of the optical properties (optical transmittance and refractive index) confirmed the good quality of the films. These results indicate that the polymeric precursor method is a promising process to develop lithium niobate waveguides.