LaB6 thin films were deposited at a temperature of 500 °C under vacuum or Ar atmosphere by the pulsed laser deposition technique on (100) Si substrates using a KrF laser. Grazing incidence x-ray diffraction investigations found that films were nanocrystalline, with grain size dimensions from 86 to 102 nm and exhibited microstrain values around 1.1%. Simulations of the x-ray reflectivity curves acquired from the deposited films showed that films had a density around 4.55 g/cm3, and were very smooth, with a surface roughness root-mean-square of 1.5 nm, which was also confirmed by scanning electron and atomic force microscopy measurements. All films were covered by a ∼2 nm thick contamination layer that formed when samples were exposed to the ambient. Auger electron spectroscopy investigations found very low oxygen impurity levels below 1.5 at. % once the contamination surface layer was removed by Ar ion sputtering. Four point probe measurements showed that films were conductive, with a resistivity value around 200 μΩ cm for those deposited under Ar atmosphere and slightly higher for those deposited under vacuum. Nanoindentation and scratch investigations showed that films were rather hard, H ∼ 16 GPa, E ∼ 165 GPa, and adherent to the substrate. Thermionic emission measurements indicated a work function value of 2.66 eV, very similar to other reported values for LaB6.

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