EPS CMD Europhysics Prize honors oxide interfaces research

By . Published on 25 June 2014 in:
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The Condensed Matter Division of the European Physical Society is proud to announce the award of the 2014 European Physical Society Condensed Matter Division Europhysics Prize to Harold Y. Hwang, Jochen Mannhart and Jean-Marc Triscone “for the discovery and investigation of electron liquids at oxide interfaces”.

An outstanding challenge in condensed matter science has been to develop alternatives to conventional semiconductors for the future generations of electronic devices. Of particular interest for such devices are interfaces of transition metal oxides having strongly correlated conduction electrons with highly tuneable properties. However, such interfaces have been exceptionally difficult to prepare efficiently with the requisite degree of control.

Jean-Marc Triscone, Harold Y. Hwang and Jochen Mannhart
Jean-Marc Triscone, Harold Y. Hwang and Jochen Mannhart

A major step forward in the preparation of oxide interfaces was achieved by Hwang and co-workers employing a pulse laser deposition technique as an efficient alternative to molecular beam epitaxy to grow highly controlled metallic interfaces between lanthanum aluminate and strontium titanate. Importantly, quasi-two dimensional conducting channels on strontium titanate interfaces with remarkably high mobilities and carrier densities have been achieved. This has led to a rapid growth in the study of two dimensional electron liquids in oxide interfaces – the modern counterparts of two dimensional electron gases in conventional semiconductors.

The next major step forward has been the discovery by the groups of Triscone and Mannhart of the occurrence of superconductivity in the electron liquid between lanthanum aluminate and strontium titanate. Of particular significance has been their development of novel meta-oxide field effect devices that enable them to continuously tune via an applied gate voltage the carrier density across the metal insulator and metal superconductor transitions.

The potential of these devices has been demonstrated, for example, by the integration of nearly a million lanthanum aluminate and strontium titanate-based field effect transistors in a single chip. The two dimensional electron liquids in oxide interfaces have been shown to exhibit numerous other phenomena including not only superconductivity, but also magnetism, Rashba spin-orbit coupling and pseudo gap phenomena all of which are tuneable via voltage gating. This marks the beginning of a new era in the field of quantum electronic devices.

The Prize will be presented at a session of the 25th General Conference of the EPS Condensed Matter Division, which will take place in Paris from 24 to 29 August 2014.

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