La0.5Sr0.5CoO3 (LSCO) thin films have been deposited on (100) MgO substrates using pulsed laser ablation-deposition (PLAD). The crystallographic orientation of LSCO was found to be dependent on the surface treatment of (100) MgO prior to deposition. PLAD deposition parameters were optimized to yield LSCO films with an RMS surface roughness of 40–50 Å. A smooth surface morphology was reproduced as long as the oxygen content of the LSCO target was preserved. Otherwise, “splashing” occurred which resulted in the transfer of condensed particles from molten spherical globules of LSCO from the target to the substrate. Splashing was subsequently eliminated and smooth surface quality was restored after annealing the LSCO target at 550 °C in oxygen for 3 h. Optical emission spectroscopy (OES) of the LSCO's plume identified excited atomic cobalt neutrals, excited singly ionized strontium and lanthanum, and excited molecular LaO species. Oxygen interaction with the plume produced no new species. Furthermore, the OES data suggest that the observed LaO molecules were not created by the chemical reaction between La and O2 during ablation, but were ejected directly from the target during the PLAD process.
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