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Title: Nature of the metal-insulator transition in few-unit-cell-thick LaNiO 3 films

The nature of the metal-insulator transition in thin films and superlattices of LaNiO 3 only a few unit cells in thickness remains elusive despite tremendous effort. Quantum confinement and epitaxial strain have been evoked as the mechanisms, although other factors such as growth-induced disorder, cation non-stoichiometry, oxygen vacancies, and substrate-film interface quality may also affect the observable properties of ultrathin films. Here we report results obtained for near-ideal LaNiO 3 films with different thicknesses and terminations grown by atomic layer-by-layer laser molecular beam epitaxy on LaAlO 3 substrates. We find that the room-temperature metallic behavior persists until the film thickness is reduced to an unprecedentedly small 1.5 unit cells (NiO 2 termination). Electronic structure measurements using X-ray absorption spectroscopy and first-principles calculation suggest that oxygen vacancies existing in the films also contribute to the metal-insulator transition.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [4] ; ORCiD logo [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8] ;  [9] ;  [9] ;  [10] ;  [11] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Temple Univ., Philadelphia, PA (United States). Dept. of Physics
  2. Temple Univ., Philadelphia, PA (United States). Dept. of Physics and Temple Materials Inst.
  3. Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL (United States). Dept. of Physics; Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Materials Science Division
  4. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States). National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)
  5. Univ. of Salerno, CNR-SPIN, Fisciano (Italy); Inst. for Materials Workshop (CNR-IOM), Trieste (Italy)
  6. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). National Center for Electron Microscopy and Molecular Foundry
  7. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Advanced Photon Source (APS)
  8. Univ. of South Florida, Tampa, FL (United States). Dept. of Physics
  9. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Advanced Light Source (ALS)
  10. Temple Univ., Philadelphia, PA (United States). Dept. of Physics; Inst. for Materials Workshop (CNR-IOM), Trieste (Italy)
  11. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States). Dept. of Physics; The Flatiron Inst., New York, NY (United States). Center for Computational Quantum Physics
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
BNL-207932-2018-JAAM
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723; ark:/13030/qt4h42t3tn
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-05CH11231; DMR-1245000; W911NF-15-1-0181; AC02-98CH10886; SC0012704; AC02-06CH11357
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 1; Related Information: © 2018 The Author(s).; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Advanced Light Source (ALS); Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States). National Synchrotron Light Source; Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); National Science Foundation (NSF); US Army Research Office (ARO)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE
OSTI Identifier:
1460349
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1462254; OSTI ID: 1463856