Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy Methodology and Application to Perovskite Oxide Materials

  • Gurmeet Kanda

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The work presented involved simulation and experimental studies aimed at improving the methodology of positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS), and applied PALS to gain a better understanding of doping mechanisms in ABO3 perovskite oxide materials.

    Reliable decomposition of PALS spectra requires an accurate description of the instrument resolution function (IRF) and the extrinsic, source component, annihilation events. The source terms include annihilations with the crystallites of the radionuclide and in the thin foil normally used to support the source. In principle both the IRF and the source correction terms can accurately be determined if samples exhibiting a true single lifetime component are measured. A series of annealing studies was performed on commercially available high purity polycrystalline metal samples to reduce the defect concentration below the approximate 0.1 ppm detection limit of PALS. The study showed that despite the numerous reports in literature it was not possible to reproduce the results with similar annealing conditions or sample purity.

    The possibility of utilising two-lifetime materials to enable the extraction of source correction terms is analysed using simulations, and by experiments on commercially available pure polycrystalline metals. The positron source is commonly deposited on, and supported by, a thin Kapton foil. As part of this work variable energy PALS (VE-PALS) performed at the Munich Research Reactor FRMII on Kapton foils were analysed. This enabled one of the source correction terms to be unambiguously determined. In consequence, the source correction terms for a Kapton supported positron source were extracted from measurements using annealed nickel exhibiting two positron lifetime components.

    PALS was applied to a study on donor doping of PbTiO3 ceramics using a series of lanthanide-ions. It has been proposed that the smaller Ln-ions may act as amphoteric dopants substituting either on the A-site as a donor, or on the Bsite as an acceptor. In this study Ln-ions in size from La down to Er were studied. A systematic variation in the average positron lifetime was observed where the value was constant from La to Gd and then reduced for the smaller ions. The decrease in average lifetime provides evidence for a reduction in the fraction of trapping to A-site related vacancy defects. The onset of a reduction in the average lifetime between Gd and Dy provides evidence for a change in the doping mechanism resulting in a relative reduction in the fraction of A-site vacancy positron trapping.

    In contrast to PbTiO3, donor doping of SrTiO3 normally results in electron charge compensation. Recently this has been very clearly demonstrated for La3+ doped SrTiO3 thin films grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) which exhibit exceptional electron mobilities. A series of MBE films grown at University of California Santa Barbara were measured by VE-PALS at FRMII and have been analysed here. Strontium vacancies were identified, and a reduced bulk lifetime component was also observed. This enabled bulk lifetime values to be obtained from two of the films which were in good agreement with the previously obtained values from single crystal samples. A PALS study was also performed on a series of B-site donor, Nb, doped SrTiO3 crystals. High intensity reduced bulk components were observed and enabled measurements of the bulk lifetime. The highest Nb doping level samples showed the most intense reduced bulk lifetime but also clearly demonstrated the presence of Sr vacancies. The observation of A-site vacancy defects for both Nb-doped and La-doped SrTiO3 suggest that formation of these defects is preferred and are independent of the site of incorporation of the donor ion.

    Studies were also performed on acceptor doped SrTiO3. PALS measurements were made on a series of Fe-doped SrTiO3 ceramic samples, and VE-PALS measurements on pulsed laser deposition of Fe-doped SrTiO3 thin film samples were analysed. The positron lifetime measurements on the ceramic samples showed a dominant 166(3) ps component, a value less than the Ti-vacancy lifetime. It is proposed that the component contains a contribution from positrons trapping at oxygen vacancy substitutional Fe impurity complexes with a local charge that is neutral or negative. The measurements on the series of Fe-doped PLD SrTiO3 films suggest a complex relation between the vacancy defect content of a film and both the Fe-doping and PLD growth conditions. Films grown with higher laser fluence values contained Sr vacancy defects, in contrast to previous studies of acceptor doped perovskites. Films grown with low laser fluence or with high Fe-content showed dominant trapping to Ti-vacancy related defects.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Keeble (Supervisor)


    • positron
    • PALS
    • Perovskite oxides
    • source correction
    • annealing
    • kapton

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