Nanoscale phase separation in the oxide layer at GeTe (111) surfaces†
As a semiconductor ferroelectric, GeTe has become a focus of renewed attention due to the recent discovery of giant Rashba splitting. It already has a wide range of applications, from thermoelectricity to data storage. Its stability in ambient air, as well as the structure and properties of an oxide layer, define the processing media for device production and operation. Here, we studied a reaction between the GeTe (111) surface and molecular oxygen for crystals having solely inversion domains. We evaluated the reaction kinetics both ex situ and in situ using NAP XPS. The structure of the oxide layer is extensively discussed, where, according to HAADF-STEM and STEM-EDX, nanoscale phase separation of GeO2 and Te is observed, which is unusual for semiconductors. We believe that such behaviour is closely related to the ferroelectric properties and the domain structure of GeTe.