Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Anything goes in oxides

10.01.2011
The interaction of electrons in an unusual oxide reveals new ways to tune electrical conductivity

Researchers in Japan have demonstrated why the material Sr2IrO4—a transition metal oxide—that was expected to be an electrical conductor is actually an insulator[1]. Harnessing this material’s unusual conducting properties could form the basis for novel electronic devices or superconductors.

The difference between an electrical conductor and an insulator is that electrons in the latter cannot move freely through the crystal. This is because insulators have a gap in their energy spectrum that electrons cannot overcome. Hiroshi Watanabe, Tomonori Shirakawa and Seiji Yunoki from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako and the Japan Science and Technology Agency have now uncovered how the electronic gap in Sr2IrO4 arises. Other RIKEN scientists had shown previously that the compound is an insulator[2].

Sr2IrO4 is a member of the oxygen-containing compounds based on transition metals that have high atomic numbers. In these transition metals, the electrons of elements such as nickel, copper or cobalt strongly interact with each other, which results in effects such as superconductivity or magnetism.

In compounds made from the heavier transition metals, the outermost electrons circle the atoms in the so-called ‘5d electron shell’, which is relatively distant from the core. For electrons that occupy this shell there is an unusually strong interaction between their magnetic property, called spin, and the orbital motion around the atomic nucleus. The energy of this spin–orbit interaction is as large as the electron’s energy of motion or the energy arising from the electrostatic interaction between the electrons. This has dramatic consequences on their electronic properties, according to Yunoki, who led the research team. “Literally anything can happen in 5d electron systems because of the subtle balance of those three fundamental energy scales.”

How this energetic interplay modifies the electron conducting behavior in Sr2IrO4 became evident from the researchers’ calculations. The strong spin–orbit interaction in Sr2IrO4 shifts some of the electronic states to higher energies, which is sufficiently strong to create an energy gap in the electronic states.

Furthermore, the calculations reveal an intriguing connection to the family of high-temperature superconductors that have a similar gap in their electronic states. In these compounds, superconductivity is achieved through a small addition of atoms introducing an electron surplus. The researchers are now investigating the possibility that this could also be the case here. “It would have an enormous impact if one can make Sr2IrO4 superconducting,” says Yunoki. “We hope that our theoretical calculations will be of help to experimentalists.”

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Computational Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute

Journal information

1.Watanabe, H., Shirakawa, T. & Yunoki, S. Microscopic study of a spin-orbit-induced Mott insulator in Ir oxides. Physical Review Letters 105, 216410 (2010).

2. Kim, B. J., Ohsumi, H., Komesu, T., Sakai, S., Morita, T., Takagi, H & Arima, T. Phase-sensitive observation of a spin-orbital Mott state in Sr2IrO4. Science 323, 1329–1332 (2009).

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet
18.08.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter
17.08.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>