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Striped nanoscale phase separation at the metal-insulator transition of heteroepitaxial nickelates

Mattoni, G; Zubko, P; Maccherozzi, F; Van der Torren, AJH; Boltje, DB; Hadjimichael, M; Manca, N; ... Caviglia, AD; + view all (2016) Striped nanoscale phase separation at the metal-insulator transition of heteroepitaxial nickelates. Nature Communications , 7 , Article 131. 10.1038/ncomms13141. Green open access

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Abstract

Nucleation processes of mixed-phase states are an intrinsic characteristic of first-order phase transitions, typically related to local symmetry breaking. Direct observation of emerging mixed-phase regions in materials showing a first-order metal–insulator transition (MIT) offers unique opportunities to uncover their driving mechanism. Using photoemission electron microscopy, we image the nanoscale formation and growth of insulating domains across the temperature-driven MIT in NdNiO3 epitaxial thin films. Heteroepitaxy is found to strongly determine the nanoscale nature of the phase transition, inducing preferential formation of striped domains along the terraces of atomically flat stepped surfaces. We show that the distribution of transition temperatures is a local property, set by surface morphology and stable across multiple temperature cycles. Our data provide new insights into the MIT of heteroepitaxial nickelates and point to a rich, nanoscale phenomenology in this strongly correlated material.

Type: Article
Title: Striped nanoscale phase separation at the metal-insulator transition of heteroepitaxial nickelates
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13141
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms13141
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Electronic properties and materials; Phase transitions and critical phenomena; Surfaces, interfaces and thin films
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > London Centre for Nanotechnology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1530822
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