Spin-Orbit Coupling Driven Quantum Phenomena at Correlated Oxide Interfaces

Xia Hong (Physics & Astronomy)

Co-PI's: Peter Dowben, Xiaoshan Xu (Physics & Astronomy)

The goal of this research is to exploit free-standing correlated oxide thin films and heterostructures as a model system to explore lattice- and charge-driven emergent quantum phenomena. We are interested in pursuing two research directions. The first one is to utilize a Nanoelectromechanical System (NEMS) to generate tunable, directional strain in oxide thin films that possess strong spin-orbit coupling (Fig. 1), such as the Mott insulator Sr2IrO4 and the correlated semimetal SrIrO3, aiming at induce reversible modulation of the electronic and magnetic ground states.

The second direction is to exploit the electric field effect approach to explore the magnetic and electronic anomalies in a room temperature ferrimagnetic material, NiCo2O4 (NCO). Our approach is to use free-standing ferroelectric thin films, such as nanoscale Pb(Zr,Ti)O3, as a top gate to tune the NCO layer underneath.

The proposed efforts involve interdisciplinary research encompassing advanced epitaxial thin film growth and characterization (Hong and Xu), nanofabrication (Zhou), magneto-optical (Xu), magnetotransport (Hong) and spectroscopy (Dowben) studies, in conjunction with theoretical modeling (Tsymbal), which leverages the strong synergy of the team in collaborative research in related areas. The success of the project can lead to enhanced understanding and manipulation of novel quantum phases, and facilitate the development of high performance, low power nanoelectronic, spintronic and energy harvesting applications.


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Figure 1: Use a NEMS device to apply strain to a freestanding thin film sample.