Lattice Expansion in Nanocrystalline Niobium Thin Films
High-purity nanocrystalline niobium (Nb) thin films have been deposited using high-pressure magnetron sputter deposition. Increasing the pressure of the sputtering gas during deposition has systematically led to reduced crystallite sizes in these films. Based on x-ray and electron diffraction results, it is observed that the nanocrystalline Nb films exhibit a significantly large lattice expansion with reduction in crystallite size. There is however, no change in the bcc crystal structure on reduction in crystallite size to below 5 nm. The lattice expansion in nanocrystalline Nb has been simulated by employing a recently proposed model based on linear elasticity and by appropriately modifying it to incorporate a crystallite-size-dependent width of the grain boundary.