Condensed-Matter Physics & Materials Science Seminar

"Controlling the metal-insulator transition in LaNiO3"

Presented by Frederick Walker, Yale University

Thursday, August 18, 2016, 1:30 pm — Bldg. 734, ISB Bldg., Conf Room 201 (upstairs)

New materials are needed to advance electronic, optical and energy materials beyond current technology trends. Perovskite oxides can potentially meet these needs due to their flexibility and unique functional properties. In bulk materials, these properties are accessed through modifications of physical and electronic structure through cation substitution in the perovskite lattice. An even larger phase space of properties and functionalities is possible when these materials are combined in thin film heterostructure form using molecular beam epitaxy. The sensitivity of the resulting properties on interface structure often dominates device function. Uncovering a microscopic understanding of emergent properties at such interfaces is challenging due to the small volume of material present. In this talk, we show how a combination of first principles theory and experiment can be used to develop a non-volatile, three terminal switch. The device is implemented by using the perovskite LaNiO3 as a conducting channel and a ferroelectric gate. The approach to developing this switch involves synchrotron x-ray characterization of picoscale structural distortions for LaNiO3 heterostructures, including LaNiO3-vacuum, LaNiO3-band insulator, and LaNiO3-ferroelectric. The consequences of the picoscale distortions are strong modulations of the measured electronic transport as a function of interface and ferroelectric polarization direction. Quantitative comparisons of the structure with first principles theory show excellent agreement. Theory provides an understanding of how the picoscale distortions at the interface result in changes in orbital occupation and band properties of both the nickelate and ferroelectric. These insights inspire new principles for designing ferroelectric heterostructures that show record non-volatile resistance modulations.

Hosted by: Mark Dean

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