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Nat Mater. 2008 Aug;7(8):621-5. doi: 10.1038/nmat2223. Epub 2008 Jun 29.

Mapping the spatial distribution of charge carriers in LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructures.

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1
Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales, Associée à l'Université Paris-Sud, Route départementale 128, 91767 Palaiseau Cedex, France.

Abstract

At the interface between complex insulating oxides, novel phases with interesting properties may occur, such as the metallic state reported in the LaAlO(3)/SrTiO(3) system . Although this state has been predicted and reported to be confined at the interface, some studies indicate a much broader spatial extension, thereby questioning its origin. Here, we provide for the first time a direct determination of the carrier density profile of this system through resistance profile mappings collected in cross-section LaAlO(3)/SrTiO(3) samples with a conducting-tip atomic force microscope (CT-AFM). We find that, depending on specific growth protocols, the spatial extension of the high-mobility electron gas can be varied from hundreds of micrometres into SrTiO(3) to a few nanometres next to the LaAlO(3)/SrTiO(3) interface. Our results emphasize the potential of CT-AFM as a novel tool to characterize complex oxide interfaces and provide us with a definitive and conclusive way to reconcile the body of experimental data in this system.

PMID:
18587402
DOI:
10.1038/nmat2223
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