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Published March 2015 | Published
Journal Article Open

Order within disorder: The atomic structure of ion-beam sputtered amorphous tantala (a-Ta_2O_5)


Amorphous tantala (a-Ta_2O_5) is a technologically important material often used in high-performance coatings. Understanding this material at the atomic level provides a way to further improve performance. This work details extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements of a-Ta_2O_5 coatings, where high-quality experimental data and theoretical fits have allowed a detailed interpretation of the nearest-neighbor distributions. It was found that the tantalum atom is surrounded by four shells of atoms in sequence; oxygen, tantalum, oxygen, and tantalum. A discussion is also included on how these models can be interpreted within the context of published crystalline Ta 2O5 and other a-T_2O_5 studies.

Additional Information

© 2015 Author(s). All article content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Received 9 November 2014; accepted 16 February 2015; published online 5 March 2015. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Grant No. PHYS-1068596. The LIGO Laboratory operates under Co-operative Agreement No. PHY-0107417. Use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515. SR holds a Royal Society (RS) Wolfs Research Merit award. IWM is supported by a RS University Research Fellowship. This paper has been assigned LIGO Document No. LIGO-P1400192. The authors would like to thank colleagues in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for many useful discussions and their support of this research. We also wish to acknowledge the use of the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023