In this paper, we analyze the structural distortions observed by transmission electron microscopy in thin epitaxial SrRuO3 layers used as bottom electrodes in multiferroic coatings onto SrTiO3 substrates for future multiferroic devices. Regardless of the nature and architecture of the multilayer oxides deposited on the top of the SrRuO3 thin films, selected area electron diffraction patterns systematically revealed the presence of faint diffraction spots appearing in forbidden positions for the SrRuO3 orthorhombic structure. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) combined with Geometric Phase Analysis (GPA) evidenced the origin of these forbidden diffraction spots in the presence of structurally disordered nanometric domains in the SrRuO3 bottom layers, resulting from a strain-driven phase transformation. The local high compressive strain (−4% ÷ −5%) measured by GPA in the HRTEM images induces a local orthorhombic to monoclinic phase transition by a cooperative rotation of the RuO6 octahedra. A further confirmation of the origin of the forbidden diffraction spots comes from the simulated diffraction patterns obtained from a monoclinic disordered SrRuO3 structure.

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