Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Physics

Advisor

Jak Chakhalian

Committee Member

Huaxiang Fu

Second Committee Member

William Oliver III

Third Committee Member

Douglas Spearot

Keywords

Pure sciences; Applied sciences; Complex oxides; Condensed matter; Phase transitions; Thin films

Abstract

Transition metal oxides featuring strong electron-electron interactions have been at the forefront of condensed matter physics research in the past few decades due to the myriad of novel and exciting phases derived from their competing interactions. Beyond their numerous intriguing properties displayed in the bulk they have also shown to be quite susceptible to externally applied perturbation in various forms. The dominant theme of this work is the exploration of three emerging methods for engineering the ground states of these materials to access both their applicability and their deficiencies.

The first of the three methods involves a relatively new set of compounds which adhere to a unique paradigm in chemical doping, a-site ordered perovskites. These compounds are iso-structural, i.e. constant symmetry, despite changing the dopant ions. We find that these materials, featuring Cu at the doped A-site, display the Zhang-Rice state, to varying degrees, found in high temperature superconducting cuprates, with the choice of B-site allowing

“self-doping” within the material. Further, we find that within CaCu3Ir4O12 the Cu gains a localized magnetic moment and leads to the experimentally observed heavy fermion state in the materials, one of only two such non-f-electron heavy fermion materials.

Next, epitaxial constraint is used to modify the ground state of the rare-earth nickelates in ultra thin film form. Application of compressive (tensile) strain is found to suppress (maintain) the temperature at which the material goes through a Mott metal-insulator transition. Further, while for EuNiO3 thin films the typical bulk-like magnetic and charge ordering is found to occur, epitaxial strain is found to suppress the charge ordering in NdNiO3 thin films due to pinning to the substrate and the relatively weak tendency to monoclinically distort. Finally, the creation of superlattices of EuNiO3 and LaNiO3 was shown to not only allow the selection of the temperature at which the metal-insulator transition occurs, but through digital control the Ni site symmetry can be artificially broken leading to a previously unseen monoclinic metallic phase. Further, by creating a structure which does or does not match the bulk-like rock salt charge order pattern it was found this transition can be either strongly enhanced or removed entirely.

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