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Nature. 2004 Apr 8;428(6983):630-3.

Electronic reconstruction at an interface between a Mott insulator and a band insulator.

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Department of Physics, Columbia University 538 West 120th Street, New York, New York 10027, USA.


Surface science is an important and well-established branch of materials science involving the study of changes in material properties near a surface or interface. A fundamental issue has been atomic reconstruction: how the surface lattice symmetry differs from the bulk. 'Correlated-electron compounds' are materials in which strong electron-electron and electron-lattice interactions produce new electronic phases, including interaction-induced (Mott) insulators, many forms of spin, charge and orbital ordering, and (presumably) high-transition-temperature superconductivity. Here we propose that the fundamental issue for the new field of correlated-electron surface/interface science is 'electronic reconstruction': how does the surface/interface electronic phase differ from that in the bulk? As a step towards a general understanding of such phenomena, we present a theoretical study of an interface between a strongly correlated Mott insulator and a band insulator. We find dramatic interface-induced electronic reconstructions: in wide parameter ranges, the near-interface region is metallic and ferromagnetic, whereas the bulk phase on either side is insulating and antiferromagnetic. Extending the analysis to a wider range of interfaces and surfaces is a fundamental scientific challenge and may lead to new applications for correlated electron materials.


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