CAREER: Tuning Electronic Phases in Layered Complex Oxides

  • Engel-Herbert, Roman (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This CAREER project is jointly funded by Electronic and Photonic Materials and Ceramic programs.

Technical: The main scope of this CAREER project aims to synthesize and characterize nanostructured complex perovskite oxide thin films exhibiting strong electron correlation. Controlling electronic phase transitions in these systems requires excellent materials quality with greatly reduced defect densities, nanoscale carrier confinement of ultrathin layers and atomically sharp interfaces. Research is focused on artificial layered structures to achieve low dimensional electron liquids in the limit of extreme carrier concentrations. Hybrid molecular beam epitaxy is employed to grow quantum well heterostructures, where the confinement is achieved using band discontinuities at nonpolar interfaces. The goal is to explore how materials design parameters available in thin film growth, namely strain, dimensional confinement, chemical doping and layering scheme, affect the stability of the electronic phases of these two-dimensional electron liquids. Advanced spectroscopic and structural characterization techniques are employed in combination with temperature-dependent thermoelectric and thermomagnetic as well as magneto-transport properties to correlate Fermi surface modifications with atomic scale design of these artificial electronic material systems.

Non-technical: The project addresses fundamental questions and basic research challenges in the emerging field of oxide electronics. Understanding phenomena arising from strong electron correlation provides a path to discover, tailor and utilize electronic materials with functionalities beyond conventional semiconductor materials. Research results are expected to significantly impact the development of energy-efficient and ultrafast logic devices for future computation schemes. The project activities contain a strong educational and outreach component embedded in the existing outreach programs at Penn State. Two interactive demonstration packages are created to illustrate scientific and technological concepts relevant to the research. A functional model analog of a molecular beam epitaxy system is built allowing young students to grow layered structures using spherical objects representing atoms. An intuitive and tangible interactive package of metronomes is developed to help exploring various aspects of correlation effects using the synchronization behavior of metronomes to conceptualize coupling based on mutual interactions. The flexible design of the demonstration packages allow versatile utilization for a variety of outreach activities, including museum exhibits, class room and workshop activities, and science festivals.

Effective start/end date2/1/141/31/20


  • National Science Foundation: $575,000.00


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