a1 Department of Innovative and Engineered Materials, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama 226-8502, Japan
a2 Toshima Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Higashimatsuyama, Saitama 355-0036, Japan
a3 Namiki Precision Jewel Co., Ltd., Adachi, Tokyo 123-8511, Japan
a4 Kanagawa Industrial Technology Center, Ebina, Kanagawa 243-0435, Japan
We examined the influence of momentary annealing on the nanoscale surface morphology of NiO(111) epitaxial thin films deposited on atomically stepped sapphire (0001) substrates at room temperature in O2 at 1.3 × 10−3 and 1.3 × 10−6 Pa using a pulsed laser deposition (PLD) technique. The NiO films have atomically flat surfaces (RMS roughness: approximately 0.1–0.2 nm) reflecting the step-and-terrace structures of the substrates, regardless of the O2 deposition pressure. After rapid thermal annealing (RTA) of the NiO(111) epitaxial film deposited at 1.3 × 10−3 Pa O2, a periodic straight nanogroove array related to the atomic steps of the substrate was formed on the film surface for 60 s. In contrast, the fabrication of a transient state in the nanogroove array formation was achieved with RTA of less than 1 s. However, when the O2 atmosphere during PLD was 1.3 × 10−6 Pa, random crystal growth was observed and resulted in a disordered rough surface nanostructure after RTA.