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      Direct imaging of the coexistence of ferromagnetism and superconductivity at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface

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          Abstract

          LaAlO3 and SrTiO3 are insulating, nonmagnetic oxides, yet the interface between them exhibits a two-dimensional electron system with high electron mobility,1 superconductivity at low temperatures,2-6 and electric-field-tuned metal-insulator and superconductorinsulator phase transitions.3,6-8 Bulk magnetization and magnetoresistance measurements also suggest some form of magnetism depending on preparation conditions5,9-11 and suggest a tendency towards nanoscale electronic phase separation.10 Here we use local imaging of the magnetization and magnetic susceptibility to directly observe a landscape of ferromagnetism, paramagnetism, and superconductivity. We find submicron patches of ferromagnetism in a uniform background of paramagnetism, with a nonuniform, weak diamagnetic superconducting susceptibility at low temperature. These results demonstrate the existence of nanoscale phase separation as suggested by theoretical predictions based on nearly degenerate interface sub-bands associated with the Ti orbitals.12,13 The magnitude and temperature dependence of the paramagnetic response suggests that the vast majority of the electrons at the interface are localized, and do not contribute to transport measurements.3,6,7 In addition to the implications for magnetism, the existence of a 2D superconductor at an interface with highly broken inversion symmetry and a ferromagnetic landscape in the background suggests the potential for exotic superconducting phenomena.

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          Most cited references 24

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          A high-mobility electron gas at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterointerface.

          Polarity discontinuities at the interfaces between different crystalline materials (heterointerfaces) can lead to nontrivial local atomic and electronic structure, owing to the presence of dangling bonds and incomplete atomic coordinations. These discontinuities often arise in naturally layered oxide structures, such as the superconducting copper oxides and ferroelectric titanates, as well as in artificial thin film oxide heterostructures such as manganite tunnel junctions. If polarity discontinuities can be atomically controlled, unusual charge states that are inaccessible in bulk materials could be realized. Here we have examined a model interface between two insulating perovskite oxides--LaAlO3 and SrTiO3--in which we control the termination layer at the interface on an atomic scale. In the simple ionic limit, this interface presents an extra half electron or hole per two-dimensional unit cell, depending on the structure of the interface. The hole-doped interface is found to be insulating, whereas the electron-doped interface is conducting, with extremely high carrier mobility exceeding 10,000 cm2 V(-1) s(-1). At low temperature, dramatic magnetoresistance oscillations periodic with the inverse magnetic field are observed, indicating quantum transport. These results present a broad opportunity to tailor low-dimensional charge states by atomically engineered oxide heteroepitaxy.
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            Superconducting interfaces between insulating oxides.

            At interfaces between complex oxides, electronic systems with unusual electronic properties can be generated. We report on superconductivity in the electron gas formed at the interface between two insulating dielectric perovskite oxides, LaAlO3 and SrTiO3. The behavior of the electron gas is that of a two-dimensional superconductor, confined to a thin sheet at the interface. The superconducting transition temperature of congruent with 200 millikelvin provides a strict upper limit to the thickness of the superconducting layer of congruent with 10 nanometers.
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              Tunable quasi-two-dimensional electron gases in oxide heterostructures.

              We report on a large electric-field response of quasi-two-dimensional electron gases generated at interfaces in epitaxial heterostructures grown from insulating oxides. These device structures are characterized by doping layers that are spatially separated from high-mobility quasi-two-dimensional electron gases and therefore present an oxide analog to semiconducting high-electron mobility transistors. By applying a gate voltage, the conductivity of the electron gases can be modulated through a quantum phase transition from an insulating to a metallic state.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                15 August 2011
                Article
                10.1038/nphys2079
                1108.3150

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Custom metadata
                Edited version to appear in Nature Physics
                cond-mat.supr-con

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