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Epitaxial cobalt films in the thickness range of 3.9 to 8.6 nm were deposited on Al2O3[112¯0] substrates by dc magnetron sputtering at a substrate temperature of 315 °C. In situ annealing was performed in a vacuum after which the samples were rapidly quenched to room temperature in order to preserve the high temperature structure. Ex situ atomic-force microscopy revealed that surface roughening takes place during annealing and reaches a maximum when the annealing temperature TA is equal to a critical temperature TC~500 °C. We discovered that if TA>TC the surface becomes smooth again, although large rectangular pits that go down to the substrate also appear. X-ray-diffraction data show that unannealed samples are oriented along the hcp[0001] direction. Upon annealing samples transform to a preferentially fcc[111] orientation for TATC. We show that surface or interface oxidation cannot be the sole cause of this effect. We speculate that an increasing interface strain at higher temperatures or a surface reconstruction of the substrate are possible mechanisms.

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Shi, H. T., &Lederman, D. (1998). Surface Smoothing And Crystalline Reorientation In Thin Cobalt Films. Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, 58(4), R1778-R1781.



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