First-Principles Treatment of Vibrational Broadening in X-Ray Excited Valence Band Spectra for n-SrTiO3(001): Article No. 195115

Scott Chambers, Deepnarayan Biswas, Tien-Lin Lee, Mark van Schilfgaarde, Peter Sushko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The valence band maximum (VBM) is an important quantity for semiconductors as it locates the Fermi level relative to the band edge. Accurate measurement of this quantity in near-surface regions of semiconductors by photoemission is a first step toward determining the electronic properties of heterostructures involving these materials. While extrapolating the leading edge of the valence band to the energy axis in photoemission spectra is a widely used way to find the VBM, this method can be ambiguous if the leading edge exhibits multiple slopes. Another way to determine the VBM is to fit the leading edge to an appropriately broadened, cross-section modulated theoretical density of states (DOS). Three kinds of broadening that should be included for maximum accuracy are those due to: (1) finite instrumental resolution, (2) valence hole lifetime, and (3) vibrational excitations. While steps (1) and (2) are straightforward to implement, (3) is more difficult because the appropriate amount of broadening is not known a priori. Here, we demonstrate that explicit inclusion of vibrational broadening using ab initio molecular dynamics facilitates accurate VBM determination for n-SrTiO3(001). The total DOS is constructed by summing time-averaged projections at elevated temperature onto s-, p-, and d orbitals for the constituent atoms and modulating with the associated photoemission cross sections. Subsequent convolutions of the total DOS, first with a Gaussian of width equal to the experimental energy resolution and second with a Lorentzian to simulate valence hole lifetime effects, yield line shapes that reproduce the experimental leading edges rather well. The VBM is then given by the energy at which the vibrationally broadened total DOS (prior to the convolutions) goes to zero. The VBMs generated by this method quantitatively agree with those resulting from extrapolating from the middle of the measured leading edge for SrTiO3.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5F00-89995


  • density of states
  • doped semiconductors
  • electronic structure
  • first-principles calculations
  • photoemission spectroscopy


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