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In a system consisting of two different lattices, structural stability is ensured when an epitaxial relationship occurs between them and allows the system to retain the stress whilst avoiding the formation of a polycrystalline film. The phenomenon occurs if the film thickness does not exceed a critical value. Here we show that in spite of its orthorhombic structure, a 14 nm-thick NiSi layer can three-dimensionally adapt to the cubic Si lattice by forming transrotational domains. Each domain arises by the continuous bending of the NiSi lattice, maintaining a close relationship with the substrate structure. The presence of transrotational domains does not cause a roughening of the layer, but instead it improves the structural and electrical stability of the silicide in comparison with a 24 nm-thick layer formed using the same annealing process. These results have relevant implications for the thickness scaling of NiSi layers which are currently used as metallizations of electronic devices.

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