Copper nitride films were grown by molecular-beam epitaxy of copper in the presence of nitrogen from a radio-frequency atomic source on (001) γ-Fe4N/(001)MgO or directly on MgO substrates. The structural properties of the Cu3N films were found to be very dependent on the substrate and on the deposition temperature. At optimal growth conditions, the Cu3N films grow epitaxial on both substrates. The Cu3N films grown on MgO were characterized optically to be insulators with an energy gap of 1.65 eV. On γ-Fe4N,Cu3N films with a thickness of only 6 nm, were grown as closed layers, epitaxial and rather smooth (root-mean-square roughness of 0.7 nm). This material has ideal properties to be used as a barrier in low resistance magnetic tunnel junctions.

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