A series of samples ((AB)(x)(CD)(y))(z) were prepared containing both short repeat units (AB and CD) and long repeat units ((AB)(x)(CD)(y)), where the short repeat units were designed to have the composition appropriate to form square M(4)Sb(12) skutterudites (M = Fe, Co, or Ir; square = vacancy, La, or Y). X-ray diffraction and reflectivity were used to follow the evolution of the films from amorphous, layered materials to crystalline skutterudite superlattices as a function of annealing temperature and time. In all cases, the short repeat units interdiffused and crystallized the expected skutterudite, while the long repeat period persisted after annealing. The skutterudites crystallize with random crystallographic orientation with respect to the substrate. The observed splitting of the peaks in the high-angle diffraction data from the IrSb(3)/CoSb(3) sample indicates the formation of a novel superlattice structure with each grain having a random crystallographic orientation of the skutterudite lattice with respect to the superlattice direction.
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