The interplay of spin–orbit coupling and crystal symmetry can generate spin-polarized bands in materials only a few atomic layers thick, potentially leading to unprecedented physical properties. In the case of bilayer materials with global inversion symmetry, locally broken inversion symmetry can generate degenerate spin-polarized bands, in which the spins in each layer are oppositely polarized. Here, we demonstrate that the hidden spins in a Tl bilayer crystal are revealed by growing it on Ag(111) of sizable lattice mismatch, together with the appearance of a remarkable phenomenon unique to centrosymmetric hidden-spin bilayer crystals: a novel band splitting in both spin and space. The key to success in observing this novel splitting is that the interaction at the interface has just the right strength: it does not destroy the original wave functions of the Tl bilayer but is strong enough to induce an energy separation.
Topological insulators are bulk insulators with metallic and fully spin-polarized surface states displaying Dirac-like band dispersion. Due to spin-momentum locking, these topological surface states (TSSs) have a predominant in-plane spin polarization in the bulk fundamental gap. Here, we show by spin-resolved photoemission spectroscopy that the TSS of a topological insulator interfaced with an antimonene bilayer exhibits nearly full out-of-plane spin polarization within the substrate gap. We connect this phenomenon to a symmetry-protected band crossing of the spin-polarized surface states. The nearly full out-of-plane spin polarization of the TSS occurs along a continuous path in the energy–momentum space, and the spin polarization within the gap can be reversibly tuned from nearly full out-of-plane to nearly full in-plane by electron doping. These findings pave the way to advanced spintronics applications that exploit the giant out-of-plane spin polarization of TSSs.
In this work, which follows Part I that is dedicated to the precatalyst, we investigate the electronic properties and the accessibility of the Ti active sites in a highly active silica-supported Ziegler–Natta catalyst for industrial polyethylene production, applying a multi-scale, multi-technique approach. Complementary electronic spectroscopies (i.e. Ti K-edge XANES, Ti L2,3-edge NEXAFS and DR UV–Vis-NIR) reveal the coexistence of several titanium phases, whose relative amount depends on the concentration of the alkyl aluminum activator. In addition to β-TiCl3-like clusters and monomeric Ti(IV) sites, which are already present in the precatalyst, isolated Ti(III) sites and α-TiCl3-like clusters are formed in the presence of the activator. Two families of alkylated Ti(III) sites characterized by a different electron density are detected by IR spectroscopy of adsorbed CO, and two types of Ti-acyl species are formed upon CO insertion into the Ti-alkyl bond, characterized by a different extent of η2-coordination. The whole set of data suggests that TiCl3 clusters are preferentially formed at the exterior of the catalyst particles, likely as a consequence of Ti(III) mobility in the presence of strong Lewis acids, in most cases hampering the spectroscopic detection of isolated Ti(III) sites. In contrast, only monomeric Ti(III) sites are formed at the interior of the catalyst particles, characterized by a high electron density evocative of the presence of electron donors in the close proximity (e.g. aluminum alkoxide by-products). These sites are less accessible because of diffusion limitations, and only become visible by surface-sensitive spectroscopic methods (such as Ti L2,3-edge TEY-NEXAFS) upon the fragmentation of the catalyst particles.
We present a study of a sub-nanometre interlayer of crystalline silicon nitride at the Ni/Si interface. We performed transmission electron microscopy measurements complemented by energy dispersive X-ray analysis to investigate to what extent the nitride layer act as a barrier against atom diffusion. The results show that discontinuous silicide areas can form just below the nitride layer, whose composition is compatible with that of the nickel disilicide. The Ni–Si reaction is tentatively attributed to the thermal strain suffered by the interface during the deposition of Ni at low temperature.
Transition metal dichalcogenides exhibit many fascinating properties including superconductivity, magnetic orders, and charge density wave. The combination of these features with a non-trivial band topology opens the possibility of additional exotic states such as Majorana fermions and quantum anomalous Hall effect. Here, we report on photon-energy and polarization dependent spin-resolved angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy experiments on single crystal 1T-VSe2, revealing an unexpected band inversion and emergent Dirac nodal arc with spin-momentum locking. Density functional theory calculations suggest a surface lattice strain could be the driving mechanism for the topologically nontrivial electronic structure of 1T-VSe2.
Kagome materials have emerged as a setting for emergent electronic phenomena that encompass different aspects of symmetry and topology. It is debated whether the XV6Sn6 kagome family (where X is a rare-earth element), a recently discovered family of bilayer kagome metals, hosts a topologically non-trivial ground state resulting from the opening of spin–orbit coupling gaps. These states would carry a finite spin Berry curvature, and topological surface states. Here we investigate the spin and electronic structure of the XV6Sn6 kagome family. We obtain evidence for a finite spin Berry curvature contribution at the centre of the Brillouin zone, where the nearly flat band detaches from the dispersing Dirac band because of spin–orbit coupling. In addition, the spin Berry curvature is further investigated in the charge density wave regime of ScV6Sn6 and it is found to be robust against the onset of the temperature-driven ordered phase. Utilizing the sensitivity of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy to the spin and orbital angular momentum, our work unveils the spin Berry curvature of topological kagome metals and helps to define its spectroscopic fingerprint.
Magnesium chloride is a prototypical deliquescent material whose surface properties, although central for Ziegler–Natta cataysis, have so far remained elusive to experimental characterization. In this work, we use surface-selective X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) at ambient pressure in combination with multivariate curve resolution, molecular dynamics, and XAS theoretical methods to track in real time and accurately describe the interaction between water vapor and the MgCl2 surface. By exposing MgCl2 to water vapor at temperatures between 595 and 391 K, we show that water is preferentially adsorbed on five-coordinated Mg2+ sites in an octahedral configuration, confirming previous theoretical predictions, and find that MgCl2 is capable of retaining a significant amount of adsorbed water even under prolonged heating to 595 K. As a consequence, our work provides first experimental insights into the unique surface affinity of MgCl2 for atmospheric water. The developed technique is proven highly sensitive to the modifications induced by adsorbates on a given low-Z metal based surface and may be useful in the toolbox required to disentangle the mechanisms of interfacial chemical processes.
In the search of low cost and more efficient electronic devices, here the properties of SrVO3 transparent conductor oxide (TCO) thin film are investigated, both visible-range optically transparent and highly conductive, it stands as a promising candidate to substitute the standard indium-tin-oxide (ITO) in applications. Its surface stability under water (both liquid and vapor) and other gaseous atmospheres is especially addressed. Through the use of spectroscopy characterizations, X-ray photoemission and operando X-ray absorption measurements, the formation of a thin Sr-rich V5+ layer located at the surface of the polycrystalline SrVO3 film with aging is observed, and for the first time how it can be removed from the surface by solvating in water atmosphere. The surface recovery is associated to an etching process, here spectroscopically characterized in operando conditions, allowing to follow the stoichiometric modification under reaction. Once exposed in oxygen atmosphere, the Sr-rich V5+ layer forms again. The findings improve the understanding of aging effects in perovskite oxides, allowing for the development of functionalized films in which it is possible to control or to avoid an insulating surface layer. This constitutes an important step towards the large-scale use of V-based TCOs, with possible implementations in oxide-based electronics.
In the last decade, reducing the dimensionality of materials to few atomic layers thickness has allowed exploring new physical properties and functionalities otherwise absent out of the two dimensional limit. In this regime, interfaces and interlayers play a crucial role. Here, we investigate their influence on the electronic properties and structural quality of ultrathin Cr2O3 on Pt(111), in presence of a multidomain graphene intralayer. Specifically, by combining Low-Energy Electron Diffraction, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, we confirm the growth of high-quality ultrathin Cr2O3 on bare Pt, with sharp surface reconstructions, proper stoichiometry and good electronic quality. Once a multidomain graphene intralayer is included at the metal/oxide interface, the Cr2O3 maintained its correct stoichiometry and a comparable electronic quality, even at the very first monolayers, despite the partially lost of the morphological long-range order. These results show how ultrathin Cr2O3 films are slightly affected by the interfacial epitaxial quality from the electronic point of view, making them potential candidates for graphene-integrated heterostructures.
We report on the growth and characterization of epitaxial YBa2Cu3O7−δ (YBCO) complex oxide thin films and related heterostructures exclusively by Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) and using first harmonic Nd:Y3Al5O12 (Nd:YAG) pulsed laser source (λ = 1064 nm). High-quality epitaxial YBCO thin film heterostructures display superconducting properties with transition temperature ∼ 80 K. Compared with the excimer lasers, when using Nd:YAG lasers, the optimal growth conditions are achieved at a large target-to-substrate distance d. These results clearly demonstrate the potential use of the first harmonic Nd:YAG laser source as an alternative to the excimer lasers for the PLD thin film community. Its compactness as well as the absence of any safety issues related to poisonous gas represent a major breakthrough in the deposition of complex multi-element compounds in form of thin films.
Here, we present an integrated ultra-high-vacuum (UHV) apparatus for the growth of complex materials and heterostructures. The specific growth technique is the Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) by means of a dual-laser source based on an excimer KrF ultraviolet and solid-state Nd:YAG infra-red lasers. By taking advantage of the two laser sources—both lasers can be independently used within the deposition chambers—a large number of different materials—ranging from oxides to metals, to selenides, and others—can be successfully grown in the form of thin films and heterostructures. All of the samples can be in situ transferred between the deposition chambers and the analysis chambers by using vessels and holders’ manipulators. The apparatus also offers the possibility to transfer samples to remote instrumentation under UHV conditions by means of commercially available UHV-suitcases. The dual-PLD operates for in-house research as well as user facility in combination with the Advanced Photo-electric Effect beamline at the Elettra synchrotron radiation facility in Trieste and allows synchrotron-based photo-emission as well as x-ray absorption experiments on pristine films and heterostructures.
We present CoTe2 as a type-II Dirac semimetal supporting Lorentz-symmetry violating Dirac fermions in the vicinity of the Fermi energy. By combining first-principles ab initio calculations with experimental angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy results, we show CoTe2 hosts a pair of type-II Dirac fermions around 90 meV above the Fermi energy. In addition to the bulk Dirac fermions, we find several topological band inversions in bulk CoTe2, which gives rise to a ladder of spin-polarized surface states over a wide range of energies. In contrast to the surface states which typically display Rashba-type in-plane spin splitting, we find that CoTe2 hosts interesting out-of-plane spin polarization as well. Our work establishes CoTe2 as a potential candidate for the exploration of Dirac fermiology and applications in spintronic devices, infrared plasmonics, and ultrafast optoelectronics.
Hydrogen production from methanol decomposition to syngas (H2 + CO) is a promising alternative route for clean energy transition. One major challenge is related to the quest for stable, cost-effective, and selective catalysts operating below 400 °C. We illustrate an investigation of the surface reactivity of a Ni3Sn4 catalyst working at 250 °C, by combining density functional theory, operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. We discovered that the catalytic reaction is driven by surface tin-oxide phases, which protects the underlying Ni atoms from irreversible chemical modifications, increasing the catalyst durability. Moreover, we found that Sn content plays a key role in enhancing the H2 selectivity, with respect to secondary products such as CO2. These findings open new perspectives for the engineering of scalable and low-cost catalysts for hydrogen production.
V2O3 presents a complex interrelationship between the metal–insulator transition and the structural rhombohedral-monoclinic one in temperature, as a function of sample thickness. Whilst in bulk V2O3 the two transitions coincide on the temperature scale, at 15 nm thickness a fully independent Mott-like transition occurs at lower temperature, with no corresponding structural changes perhaps related to epitaxial strain. It is therefore of relevance to investigate the thin and ultrathin film growth to pinpoint the chemical, electronic and structural phase phenomenology and the role of the interface with the substrate. Here we present results on the thickness dependent properties of V2O3 from 1 nm up to 40 nm thick as grown on c-plane Al2O3 substrates by exploiting variable sampling depth probes. The surface morphology of stoichiometric ultra-thin V2O3 layers evolves from islands-like to continuous flat film with thickness, with implications on the overall properties.
The possibility of modifying the ferromagnetic response of a multiferroic heterostructure via fully optical means exploiting the photovoltaic/photostrictive properties of the ferroelectric component is an effective method for tuning the interfacial properties. In this study, the effects of 405 nm visible-light illumination on the ferroelectric and ferromagnetic responses of (001) Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-0.4PbTiO3 (PMN-PT)/Ni heterostructures are presented. By combining electrical, structural, magnetic, and spectroscopic measurements, how light illumination above the ferroelectric bandgap energy induces a photovoltaic current and the photostrictive effect reduces the coercive field of the interfacial magnetostrictive Ni layer are shown. Firstly, a light-induced variation in the Ni orbital moment as a result of sum-rule analysis of x-ray magnetic circular dichroic measurements is reported. The reduction of orbital moment reveals a photogenerated strain field. The observed effect is strongly reduced when polarizing out-of-plane the PMN-PT substrate, showing a highly anisotropic photostrictive contribution from the in-plane ferroelectric domains. These results shed light on the delicate energy balance that leads to sizeable light-induced effects in multiferroic heterostructures, while confirming the need of spectroscopy for identifying the physical origin of interface behavior.
Interfaces between water and materials are ubiquitous and are crucial in materials sciences and in biology, where investigating the interaction of water with the surface under ambient conditions is key to shedding light on the main processes occurring at the interface. Magnesium oxide is a popular model system to study the metal oxide–water interface, where, for sufficient water loadings, theoretical models have suggested that reconstructed surfaces involving hydrated Mg2+ metal ions may be energetically favored. In this work, by combining experimental and theoretical surface-selective ambient pressure X-ray absorption spectroscopy with multivariate curve resolution and molecular dynamics, we evidence in real time the occurrence of Mg2+ solvation at the interphase between MgO and solvating media such as water and methanol (MeOH). Further, we show that the Mg2+ surface ions undergo a reversible solvation process, we prove the dissolution/redeposition of the Mg2+ ions belonging to the MgO surface, and we demonstrate the formation of octahedral [Mg(H2O)6]2+ and [Mg(MeOH)6]2+ intermediate solvated species. The unique surface, electronic, and structural sensitivity of the developed technique may be beneficial to access often elusive properties of low-Z metal ion intermediates involved in interfacial processes of chemical and biological interest.
Phase transitions are key in determining and controlling the quantum properties of correlated materials. Here, by using the combination of material synthesis and photoelectron spectroscopy, we demonstrate a genuine Mott transition undressed of any symmetry breaking side effects in the thin films of V2O3. In particular and in contrast with the bulk V2O3, we unveil the purely electronic dynamics approaching the metal–insulator transition, disentangled from the structural transformation that is prevented by the residual substrate-induced strain. On approaching the transition, the spectral signal evolves slowly over a wide temperature range, the Fermi wave-vector does not change, and the critical temperature is lower than the one reported for the bulk. Our findings are fundamental in demonstrating the universal benchmarks of a genuine nonsymmetry breaking Mott transition, extendable to a large array of correlated quantum systems, and hold promise of exploiting the metal–insulator transition by implementing V2O3 thin films in devices.
Motivated by the recent wealth of exotic magnetic phases emerging in two-dimensional frustrated lattices, we investigate the origin of possible magnetism in the monolayer family of triangular lattice materials MX2 (M=V, Mn, Ni and X=Cl, Br, I). We first show that consideration of general properties such as filling and hybridization enables to formulate the trends for the most relevant magnetic interaction parameters. In particular, we observe that the effects of spin-orbit coupling (SOC) can be effectively tuned through the ligand elements as the considered 3d transition metal ions do not strongly contribute to the anisotropic component of the intersite exchange interaction. Consequently, we find that the corresponding SOC matrix elements differ significantly from the atomic limit. In the next step and by using two ab initio based complementary approaches, we extract realistic effective spin models and find that in the case of heavy ligand elements, SOC effects manifest in anisotropic exchange and single-ion anisotropy only for specific fillings.
This work presents an original approach to preparing pure and Ni-doped CeO2 nanoparticles (NPs) that can be directly drop-casted on a substrate or calcined to form powders. The reduction of the NPs in H2 is very different than the one usually anticipated for supported Ni–CeO2 catalysts. In situ soft X-ray absorption and infrared spectroscopies revealed that the reduction of Ce4+ into Ce3+ in H2 proceeds via simultaneous oxidation of Ni2+ ions into Niδ+ (2<δ<3). Comparison with reference samples indicates that Ce4+ ions reduction is promoted over Ni-doped CeO2 NPs, whereas that of Ni2+ is hindered. Theoretical simulation of Ni L-edge spectra suggested that Ni dopant into ceria is in a square planar four-coordinate environment, in contrast to the familiar octahedral symmetry of bulk nickel oxides. Our results reveal that the surface chemistry of Ni-doped CeO2 is quite distinct as compared to that of the individual bulk oxides, which potentially can lead to a different performance of this material, notably in catalytic applications.
Machine-learning techniques are revolutionizing the way to perform efficient materials modeling. We here propose a combinatorial machine-learning approach to obtain physical formulas based on simple and easily accessible ingredients, such as atomic properties. The latter are used to build materials features that are finally employed, through linear regression, to predict the energetic stability of semiconducting binary compounds with respect to zinc blende and rocksalt crystal structures. The adopted models are trained using a dataset built from first-principles calculations. Our results show that already one-dimensional (1D) formulas well describe the energetics; a simple grid-search optimization of the automatically obtained 1D-formulas enhances the prediction performance at a very small computational cost. In addition, our approach allows one to highlight the role of the different atomic properties involved in the formulas. The computed formulas clearly indicate that “spatial” atomic properties (i.e., radii indicating maximum probability densities for 𝑠,𝑝,𝑑 electronic shells) drive the stabilization of one crystal structure with respect to the other, suggesting the major relevance of the radius associated with the 𝑝-shell of the cation species.
Transport properties of electron-doped cuprate Sr1−xLaxCuO2 thin films have been investigated as a function of doping. In particular, optimal- and over-doped samples were obtained by tuning the Sr:La stoichiometric ratio. Optimal-doped samples show a non-Fermi liquid behavior characterized by linear dependence of the resistivity from room temperature down to intermediate temperature (about 150–170 K). However, by approaching temperatures in the superconducting transition, a Fermi-liquid behavior-characterized by a T2-scaling law-was observed. Once established, the transition from a linear-T to a quadratic-T2 behavior was successfully traced back in over-doped samples, even occurring at lower temperatures. In addition, the over-doped samples show a crossover to a linear-T to a logarithmic dependence at high temperatures compatible with anti-ferromagnetic spin fluctuations dominating the normal state properties of electron-doped cuprates.
Curved magnets attract considerable interest for their unusually rich phase diagram, often encompassing exotic (e.g., topological or chiral) spin states. Micromagnetic simulations are playing a central role in the theoretical understanding of such phenomena; their predictive power, however, rests on the availability of reliable model parameters to describe a given material or nanostructure. Here we demonstrate how noncollinear-spin polarized density-functional theory can be used to determine the flexomagnetic coupling coefficients in real systems. By focusing on monolayer CrI3, we find a crossover as a function of curvature between a magnetization normal to the surface to a cycloidal state, which we rationalize in terms of effective anisotropy and Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya contributions to the magnetic energy. Our results reveal an unexpectedly large impact of spin-orbit interactions on the curvature-induced anisotropy, which we discuss in the context of existing phenomenological models
The structural, electronic, and magnetic properties of Sr-hole-doped epitaxial La1–xSrxMnO3 (0.15 ≤ x ≤ 0.45) thin films deposited using the molecular beam epitaxy technique on 4° vicinal STO (001) substrates are probed by the combination of X-ray diffraction and various synchrotron-based spectroscopy techniques. The structural characterizations evidence a significant shift in the LSMO (002) peak to the higher diffraction angles owing to the increase in Sr doping concentrations in thin films. The nature of the LSMO Mn mixed-valence state was estimated from X-ray photoemission spectroscopy together with the relative changes in the Mn L2,3 edges observed in X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), both strongly affected by doping. CTM4XAS simulations at the XAS Mn L2,3 edges reveal the combination of epitaxial strain, and different MnO6 crystal field splitting give rise to a peak at ∼641 eV. The observed changes in the occupancy of the eg and the t2g orbitals as well as their binding energy positions toward the Fermi level with hole doping are discussed. The room-temperature magnetic properties were probed at the end by circular dichroism.
The formation and the evolution of electronic metallic states localized at the surface, commonly termed 2D electron gas (2DEG), represents a peculiar phenomenon occurring at the surface and interface of many transition metal oxides (TMO). Among TMO, titanium dioxide (TiO2), particularly in its anatase polymorph, stands as a prototypical system for the development of novel applications related to renewable energy, devices and sensors, where understanding the carrier dynamics is of utmost importance. In this study, angle-resolved photo-electron spectroscopy (ARPES) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) are used, supported by density functional theory (DFT), to follow the formation and the evolution of the 2DEG in TiO2 thin films. Unlike other TMO systems, it is revealed that, once the anatase fingerprint is present, the 2DEG in TiO2 is robust and stable down to a single-unit-cell, and that the electron filling of the 2DEG increases with thickness and eventually saturates. These results prove that no critical thickness triggers the occurrence of the 2DEG in anatase TiO2 and give insight in formation mechanism of electronic states at the surface of TMO.
We report the integration of high-quality epitaxial La2/3Sr1/3MnO3 (LSMO) thin films onto SrTiO3 buffered Silicon-on-Sapphire (SOS) substrates by combining state-of-the-art thin film growth techniques such as molecular beam epitaxy and pulsed laser deposition. Detailed structural, magnetic and electrical characterizations of the LSMO/STO/SOS heterostructures show that the LSMO film properties are competitive with those directly grown on oxide substrates. X-ray magnetic circular dichroism measurements on Mn L2,3 edges show strong dichroic signal at room temperature, and angular-dependent in-plane magnetic properties by magneto-optical Kerr magnetometry reveal isotropic magnetic anisotropy. Suspended micro-bridges were thus finally fabricated by silicon micromachining, thus demonstrating the potential use of integrating LSMO magnetic layer on industrially compatible SOS substrates for the development of applicative MEMS devices.
We grew Sr1-xLaxCuO2 thin films and SrCuO2/Sr0.9La0.1CuO2/SrCuO2 trilayers by reflection high-energy diffraction-calibrated layer-by-layer molecular beam epitaxy, to study their electrical transport properties as a function of the doping and thickness of the central Sr0.9La0.1CuO2 layer. For the trilayer samples, as already observed in underdoped SLCO films, the electrical resistivity versus temperature curves as a function of the central layer thickness show, for thicknesses thinner than 20 unit cells, sudden upturns in the low temperature range with the possibility for identifying, in the normal state, the T* and a T** temperatures, respectively, separating high-temperature linear behavior and low-temperature quadratic dependence. By plotting the T* and T** values as a function of TConset for both the thin films and the trilayers, the data fall on the same curves. This result suggests that, for the investigated trilayers, the superconducting critical temperature is the important parameter able to describe the normal state properties and that, in the limit of very thin central layers, such properties are mainly influenced by the modification of the energy band structure and not by interface-related disorder.
The occurrence of oxygen-driven metal–insulator-transition (MIT) in SrNbO3 (SNO) thin films epitaxially grown on (110)-oriented DyScO3 has been reported. SNO films are fabricated by the pulsed laser deposition technique at different partial O2 pressure to vary the oxygen content and their structural, optical, and transport properties are probed. SNO unit cell has been found to shrink vertically as the oxygen content increases but keeping the epitaxial matching with the substrate. The results of Fourier-transform infra-red spectroscopy show that highly oxygenated SNO samples (i.e., grown at high oxygen pressure) show distinct optical conductivity behavior with respect to oxygen deficient films, hence demonstrating the insulating character of the formers with respect to those fabricated with lower pressure conditions. Tailoring the optical absorption and conductivity of strontium niobate epitaxial films across the MIT will favor novel applications of this material.
Multiferroic materials have attracted wide interest because of their exceptional static1,2,3 and dynamical4,5,6 magnetoelectric properties. In particular, type-II multiferroics exhibit an inversion-symmetry-breaking magnetic order that directly induces ferroelectric polarization through various mechanisms, such as the spin-current or the inverse Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya effect3,7. This intrinsic coupling between the magnetic and dipolar order parameters results in high-strength magnetoelectric effects3,8. Two-dimensional materials possessing such intrinsic multiferroic properties have been long sought for to enable the harnessing of magnetoelectric coupling in nanoelectronic devices1,9,10. Here we report the discovery of type-II multiferroic order in a single atomic layer of the transition-metal-based van der Waals material NiI2. The multiferroic state of NiI2 is characterized by a proper-screw spin helix with given handedness, which couples to the charge degrees of freedom to produce a chirality-controlled electrical polarization. We use circular dichroic Raman measurements to directly probe the magneto-chiral ground state and its electromagnon modes originating from dynamic magnetoelectric coupling. Combining birefringence and second-harmonic-generation measurements with theoretical modelling and simulations, we detect a highly anisotropic electronic state that simultaneously breaks three-fold rotational and inversion symmetry, and supports polar order. The evolution of the optical signatures as a function of temperature and layer number surprisingly reveals an ordered magnetic polar state that persists down to the ultrathin limit of monolayer NiI2. These observations establish NiI2 and transition metal dihalides as a new platform for studying emergent multiferroic phenomena, chiral magnetic textures and ferroelectricity in the two-dimensional limit.
Here, we discuss the key features of electrocatalysis with mitrofanovite (Pt3Te4), a recently discovered mineral with superb performances in hydrogen evolution reaction. Mitrofanovite is a layered topological metal with spin-polarized topological surface states with potential applications for spintronics. However, mitrofanovite is also an exceptional platform for electrocatalysis, with costs of the electrodes suppressed by 47% owing to the partial replacement of Pt with Te. Remarkably, the Tafel slope in nanostructured mitrofanovite is just 33 mV/dec, while reduced mitrofanovite has the same Tafel slope (36 mV/dec) as state-of-the-art electrodes of pure Pt. Mitrofanovite also affords surface stability and robustness to CO poisoning. Accordingly, these findings pave the way for the advent of mitrofanovite for large-scale hydrogen production.
V2O3 has long been studied as a prototypical strongly correlated material. The difficulty in obtaining clean, well ordered surfaces, however, hindered the use of surface sensitive techniques to study its electronic structure. Here we show by means of X-ray diffraction and electrical transport that thin films prepared by pulsed laser deposition can reproduce the functionality of bulk V2O3. The same films, when transferred in-situ, show an excellent surface quality as indicated by scanning tunnelling microscopy and low energy electron diffraction, representing a viable approach to study the metal-insulator transition in V2O3 by means of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. Combined, these two aspects pave the way for the use of V2O3 thin films in device-oriented heterostructures.
The understanding of the origin of a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) at the surface of anatase TiO2 remains a challenging issue. In particular, in TiO2 ultra-thin films, it is extremely difficult to distinguish intrinsic effects, due to the physics of the TiO2, from extrinsic effects, such as those arising from structural defects, dislocations, and the presence of competing phases at the film/substrate interface. It is, therefore, mandatory to unambiguously ascertain the structure of the TiO2/substrate interface. In this work, by combining high angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF-STEM), density functional theory calculations, and multislice image simulations, we have investigated the nature of strainless anatase TiO2 thin films grown on LaAlO3 substrate. In particular, the presence of oxygen vacancies in anatase TiO2 has been proved to stabilize the formation of an extra alloy layer, Ti2AlO4, by means of interface rearrangement. Our results, therefore, elucidate why the growth of anatase TiO2 directly on LaAlO3 substrate has required the deposition of a TiOx extra-layer to have a 2DEG established, thus confirming the absence of a critical thickness for the TiO2 to stabilize a 2DEG at its surface. These findings provide fundamental insights on the underlying formation mechanism of the 2DEG in TiO2/LAO hetero-interfaces to engineer the 2DEG formation in anatase TiO2 for tailored applications.
We unravel the interplay of topological properties and the layered (anti)ferromagnetic ordering in EuSn2P2, using spin and chemical selective electron and X-ray spectroscopies supported by first-principle calculations. We reveal the presence of in-plane long-range ferromagnetic order triggering topological invariants and resulting in the multiple protection of topological Dirac states. We provide clear evidence that layer-dependent spin-momentum locking coexists with ferromagnetism in this material, a cohabitation that promotes EuSn2P2 as a prime candidate axion insulator for topological antiferromagnetic spintronics applications.
We report on a two-dimensional (2D) V1–xPtxSe2 alloy that exhibits ferromagnetic order and Rashba spin–orbit coupling. Although ferromagnetism is absent in 1T-VSe2 because of the competition with the charge density wave phase, we demonstrate theoretically and experimentally that the substitution of vanadium by platinum in VSe2 (10–50%) to form a homogeneous 2D alloy restores ferromagnetic order down to one monolayer of V0.65Pt0.35Se2. Moreover, the presence of platinum atoms gives rise to Rashba spin–orbit coupling in (V,Pt)Se2, providing an original platform to study the interplay between ferromagnetism and spin–orbit coupling in the 2D limit.
Two-dimensional (2D) van der Waals (vdW) magnets provide an ideal platform for exploring, on the fundamental side, new microscopic mechanisms and for developing, on the technological side, ultracompact spintronic applications. So far, bilinear spin Hamiltonians have been commonly adopted to investigate the magnetic properties of 2D magnets, neglecting higher order magnetic interactions. However, we here provide quantitative evidence of giant biquadratic exchange interactions in monolayer NiX2 (X=Cl, Br and I), by combining first-principles calculations and the newly developed machine learning method for constructing Hamiltonian. Interestingly, we show that the ferromagnetic ground state within NiCl2 single layers cannot be explained by means of the bilinear Heisenberg Hamiltonian; rather, the nearest-neighbor biquadratic interaction is found to be crucial. Furthermore, using a three-orbitals Hubbard model, we propose that the giant biquadratic exchange interaction originates from large hopping between unoccupied and occupied orbitals on neighboring magnetic ions. On a general framework, our work suggests biquadratic exchange interactions to be important in 2D magnets with edge-shared octahedra.
High entropy oxides (HEOs) are an emerging class of materials constituted by multicomponent systems that are receiving special interest as candidates for obtaining novel and desirable properties. In this study we present a detailed investigation of the relevant intermediates arising at the surface of the prototypical HEO Mg0.2Co0.2Ni0.2Cu0.2Zn0.2O during low-temperature CO oxidation. By combining Cu L2,3-edge operando soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (soft-XAS) with density functional theory simulations, we propose that upon HEO exposure to CO at 235 °C reduced Cu(I) sites arise mostly coordinated to activated CO molecules and partly to bidentate carbonate species. When the HEO surface is then exposed to a stoichiometric mixture of CO+1/2 O2 at 250 °C, CO2 is produced while bidentante carbonate moieties remain interacting with the Cu(I) sites. We structurally characterize the carbonate and CO preferential adsorbtion geometries on the Cu(I) surface metal centers, and find that CO adopts a bent conformation that may energetically favor its subsequent oxidation. The unique surface, structural and electronic sensitivity of soft XAS together with the developed data analysis work-flow may be beneficial to characterize often elusive surface properties of systems of catalytic interest.
The properties of half-metallic manganite thin films depend on the composition and structure in the atomic scale, and consequently, their potential functional behavior can only be based on fine structure characterization. By combining advanced transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, density functional theory calculations, and multislice image simulations, we obtained evidence of a 7 nm-thick interface layer in La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 (LSMO) thin films, compatible with the formation of well-known dead layers in manganites, with an elongated out-of-plane lattice parameter and structural and electronic properties well distinguished from the bulk of the film. We observed, for the first time, a structural shift of Mn ions coupled with oxygen vacancies and a reduced Mn valence state within such layer. Understanding the correlation between oxygen vacancies, the Mn oxidation state, and Mn-ion displacements is a prerequisite to engineer the magnetotransport properties of LSMO thin films.
TaSe3 is a layered van der Waals semimetal with several inverted band gaps throughout the entire Brillouin zone and nontrivial Z2 topological indices, which place it at the boundary between a strong and a weak topological phase. Our transport experiments reveal a quadratic nonsaturating magnetoresistance (MR) with values reaching 104% at 1.8 K and 14 T, whose origins have to be searched in the material's band structure. Here we combine angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy experiments, also with spin resolution, with ab initio calculations based on density functional theory in order to draw a connection between the Fermi surface topology and the measured transport properties. Simulations based on the calculated Fermi surface clarify that electron-hole compensation plays an important role for the observed MR in the bulk material. At the surface, the position of Fermi level differs, and it can be controlled by alkali metal deposition which accounts not only for the energy shift of the bands but it slightly modifies the dispersion of the valence and conduction bands. We propose that the observed band-gap renormalization might offer a route for engineering the topological phase in TaSe3, alternative to strain.
Single crystals of the hexagonal triangular lattice compound AgCrSe2 have been grown by chemical vapor transport. The crystals have been carefully characterized and studied by magnetic susceptibility, magnetization, specific heat, and thermal expansion. In addition, we used Cr-electron spin resonance and neutron diffraction to probe the Cr 3d3 magnetism microscopically. To obtain the electronic density of states, we employed x-ray absorption and resonant photoemission spectroscopy in combination with density functional theory calculations. Our studies evidence an anisotropic magnetic order below TN=32K. Susceptibility data in small fields of about 1 T reveal an antiferromagnetic (AFM) type of order for H⊥c, whereas for H∥c the data are reminiscent of a field-induced ferromagnetic (FM) structure. At low temperatures and for H⊥c, the field-dependent magnetization and AC susceptibility data evidence a metamagnetic transition at H+=5T, which is absent for H∥c. We assign this to a transition from a planar cycloidal spin structure at low fields to a planar fanlike arrangement above H+. A fully ferromagnetically polarized state is obtained above the saturation field of H⊥S=23.7T at 2 K with a magnetization of Ms=2.8μB/Cr. For H∥c, M(H) monotonically increases and saturates at the same Ms value at H∥S=25.1T at 4.2 K. Above TN, the magnetic susceptibility and specific heat indicate signatures of two dimensional (2D) frustration related to the presence of planar ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic exchange interactions. We found a pronounced nearly isotropic maximum in both properties at about T∗=45K, which is a clear fingerprint of short range correlations and emergent spin fluctuations. Calculations based on a planar 2D Heisenberg model support our experimental findings and suggest a predominant FM exchange among nearest and AFM exchange among third-nearest neighbors. Only a minor contribution might be assigned to the antisymmetric Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction possibly related to the noncentrosymmetric polar space group R3m. Due to these competing interactions, the magnetism in AgCrSe2, in contrast to the oxygen-based delafossites, can be tuned by relatively small, experimentally accessible magnetic fields, allowing us to establish the complete anisotropic magnetic H-T phase diagram in detail.
Hybridization of electronic states and orbital symmetry in transition metal oxides are generally considered key ingredients in the description of both their electronic and magnetic properties. In the prototypical case of La0.65Sr0.35MnO3 (LSMO), a landmark system for spintronics applications, a description based solely on Mn 3d and O 2p electronic states is reductive. We thus analyzed elemental and orbital distributions in the LSMO valence band through a comparison between density functional theory calculations and experimental photoelectron spectra in a photon energy range from soft to hard x rays. We reveal a number of hidden contributions, arising specifically from La 5p, Mn 4s, and O 2s orbitals, considered negligible in previous analyses; our results demonstrate that all these contributions are significant for a correct description of the valence band of LSMO and of transition metal oxides in general.
The emergence of Dirac semimetals has stimulated growing attention, owing to the considerable technological potential arising from their peculiar exotic quantum transport related to their nontrivial topological states. Especially, materials showing type-II Dirac fermions afford novel device functionalities enabled by anisotropic optical and magnetotransport properties. Nevertheless, real technological implementation has remained elusive so far. Definitely, in most Dirac semimetals, the Dirac point lies deep below the Fermi level, limiting technological exploitation. Here, it is shown that kitkaite (NiTeSe) represents an ideal platform for type-II Dirac fermiology based on spin-resolved angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and density functional theory. Precisely, the existence of type-II bulk Dirac fermions is discovered in NiTeSe around the Fermi level and the presence of topological surface states with strong (≈50%) spin polarization. By means of surface-science experiments in near-ambient pressure conditions, chemical inertness towards ambient gases (oxygen and water) is also demonstrated. Correspondingly, NiTeSe-based devices without encapsulation afford long-term efficiency, as demonstrated by the direct implementation of a NiTeSe-based microwave receiver with a room-temperature photocurrent of 2.8 µA at 28 GHz and more than two orders of magnitude linear dynamic range. The findings are essential to bringing to fruition type-II Dirac fermions in photonics, spintronics, and optoelectronics.
In this work, we apply for the first time ambient pressure operando soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) to investigate the location, structural properties, and reactivity of the defective sites present in the prototypical metal–organic framework HKUST-1. We obtained direct evidence that Cu+ defective sites form upon temperature treatment of the powdered form of HKUST-1 at 160 °C and that they are largely distributed on the material surface. Further, a thorough structural characterization of the Cu+/Cu2+ dimeric complexes arising from the temperature-induced dehydration/decarboxylation of the pristine Cu2+/Cu2+ paddlewheel units is reported. In addition to characterizing the surface defects, we demonstrate that CO2 may be reversibly adsorbed and desorbed from the surface defective Cu+/Cu2+ sites. These findings show that ambient pressure soft-XAS, combined with state-of-the-art theoretical calculations, allowed us to shed light on the mechanism involving the decarboxylation of the paddlewheel units on the surface to yield Cu+/Cu2+ complexes and their reversible restoration upon exposure to gaseous CO2.
The piezoelectric response of ZnO thin films in heterostructure-based devices is strictly related to their structure and morphology. We optimize the fabrication of piezoelectric ZnO to reduce its surface roughness, improving the crystalline quality, taking into consideration the role of the metal electrode underneath. The role of thermal treatments, as well as sputtering gas composition, is investigated by means of atomic force microscopy and x-ray diffraction. The results show an optimal reduction in surface roughness and at the same time a good crystalline quality when 75% O2 is introduced in the sputtering gas and deposition is performed between room temperature and 573 K. Subsequent annealing at 773 K further improves the film quality. The introduction of Ti or Pt as bottom electrode maintains a good surface and crystalline quality. By means of piezoelectric force microscope, we prove a piezoelectric response of the film in accordance with the literature, in spite of the low ZnO thickness and the reduced grain size, with a unipolar orientation and homogenous displacement when deposited on Ti electrode.
Due to their peculiar quasiparticle excitations, topological metals have high potential for applications in the fields of spintronics, catalysis, and superconductivity. Here, by combining spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy, and density functional theory, we discover surface-termination-dependent topological electronic states in the recently discovered mitrofanovite Pt3Te4. Mitrofanovite crystal is formed by alternating, van der Waals bound layers of Pt2Te2 and PtTe2. Our results demonstrate that mitrofanovite is a topological metal with termination-dependent (i) electronic band structure and (ii) spin texture. Despite their distinct electronic character, both surface terminations are characterized by electronic states exhibiting strong spin polarization with a node at the Γ point and sign reversal across the Γ point, indicating their topological nature and the possibility of realizing two distinct electronic configurations (both of them with topological features) on the surface of the same material.
By means of electrocatalytic tests, surface-science techniques and density functional theory, we unveil the physicochemical mechanisms ruling the electrocatalytic activity of recently discovered mitrofanovite (Pt3Te4) mineral. Mitrofanovite represents a very promising electrocatalyst candidate for energy-related applications, with a reduction of costs by 47% compared to pure Pt and superior robustness to CO poisoning. We show that Pt3Te4 is a weak topological metal with the Z2 invariant, exhibiting electrical conductivity (∼4 × 106 S/m) comparable with pure Pt. In hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), the electrode based on bulk Pt3Te4 shows a very small overpotential of 46 mV at 10 mA cm–2 and a Tafel slope of 36–49 mV dec–1 associated with the Volmer–Heyrovsky mechanism. The outstanding ambient stability of Pt3Te4 also provides durability of the electrode and long-term stability of its efficient catalytic performances.
Composite multiferroics containing ferroelectric and ferromagnetic components often have much larger magnetoelectric coupling compared to their single-phase counterparts. Doped or alloyed HfO2-based ferroelectrics may serve as a promising component in composite multiferroic structures potentially feasible for technological applications. Recently, a strong charge-mediated magnetoelectric coupling at the Ni/HfO2 interface has been predicted using density functional theory calculations. Here, we report on the experimental evidence of such magnetoelectric coupling at the Ni/Hf0.5Zr0.5O2(HZO) interface. Using a combination of operando XAS/XMCD and HAXPES/MCDAD techniques, we probe element-selectively the local magnetic properties at the Ni/HZO interface in functional Au/Co/Ni/HZO/W capacitors and demonstrate clear evidence of the ferroelectric polarization effect on the magnetic response of a nanometer-thick Ni marker layer. The observed magnetoelectric effect and the electronic band lineup of the Ni/HZO interface are interpreted based on the results of our theoretical modeling. It elucidates the critical role of an ultrathin NiO interlayer, which controls the sign of the magnetoelectric effect as well as provides a realistic band offset at the Ni/HZO interface, in agreement with the experiment. Our results hold promise for the use of ferroelectric HfO2-based composite multiferroics for the design of multifunctional devices compatible with modern semiconductor technology.
Dirac fermions play a central role in the study of topological phases, for they can generate a variety of exotic states, such as Weyl semimetals and topological insulators. The control and manipulation of Dirac fermions constitute a fundamental step toward the realization of novel concepts of electronic devices and quantum computation. By means of Angle-Resolved Photo-Emission Spectroscopy (ARPES) experiments and ab initio simulations, here, we show that Dirac states can be effectively tuned by doping a transition metal sulfide, BaNiS2, through Co/Ni substitution. The symmetry and chemical characteristics of this material, combined with the modification of the charge-transfer gap of BaCo1−xNixS2 across its phase diagram, lead to the formation of Dirac lines, whose position in k-space can be displaced along the Γ−M symmetry direction and their form reshaped. Not only does the doping x tailor the location and shape of the Dirac bands, but it also controls the metal-insulator transition in the same compound, making BaCo1−xNixS2 a model system to functionalize Dirac materials by varying the strength of electron correlations.
The ZrSiS family of compounds hosts various exotic quantum phenomena due to the presence of both topological nonsymmorphic Dirac fermions and nodal-line fermions. In this material family, the LnSbTe (Ln = lanthanide) compounds are particularly interesting owing to the intrinsic magnetism from magnetic Ln which leads to new properties and quantum states. In this work, the authors focus on the previously unexplored compound SmSbTe. The studies reveal a rare combination of a few functional properties in this material, including antiferromagnetism with possible magnetic frustration, electron correlation enhancement, and Dirac nodal-line fermions. These properties enable SmSbTe as a unique platform to explore exotic quantum phenomena and advanced functionalities arising from the interplay between magnetism, topology, and electronic correlations.
Although Ziegler–Natta (ZN) catalysts play a major role in the polyolefin market, a true understanding of their properties at the molecular level is still missing. In particular, there is a lack of knowledge on the electronic properties of Ti sites. Theoretical calculations predict that the electron density of the Ti sites in the precatalysts correlates with the activation energy for olefin insertion in the Ti-alkyl bond generated at these sites after activation by Al-alkyls. It is also well known that the effective charge on the Ti sites in the activated catalysts affects the olefin π-complexation. In this contribution, we exploit two electronic spectroscopies, UV–vis and Ti L2,3-edge near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS), complemented with theoretical simulation to investigate three ZN precatalysts of increasing complexity (up to an industrial system) and the corresponding catalysts activated by triethylaluminum (TEAl). We provide compelling evidence for the presence of monomeric 6-fold-coordinated Ti4+ species in all of the precatalysts, which however differ in the effective charge on the Ti sites. We also unambiguously demonstrate that these sites are reduced by TEAl to two types of monomeric 5-coordinated Ti3+, either alkylated or not, and that the former are involved in ethylene polymerization. In addition, small TiCl3 clusters are formed in the industrial catalyst, likely due to the occurrence of severe reducing conditions within the catalyst pores. These data prove the potential of these two techniques, coupled with simulation, in providing an accurate description of the electronic properties of heterogeneous ZN catalysts.
The effects of competing magnetic interactions in stabilizing different spin configurations are drawing renewed attention in order to unveil emerging topological spin textures and to highlight microscopic mechanisms leading to their stabilization. The possible key role of the two-site exchange anisotropy in selecting specific helicity and vorticity of skyrmionic lattices has only recently been proposed. In this work, we explore the phase diagram of a frustrated localized magnet characterized by a two-dimensional centrosymmetric triangular lattice, focusing on the interplay between the two-ion anisotropy and the single-ion anisotropy. The effects of an external magnetic field applied perpendicularly to the magnetic layer, are also investigated. By means of Monte Carlo simulations, we find an abundance of different spin configurations, going from trivial to high-order Q skyrmionic and meronic lattices. In closer detail, we find that a dominant role is played by the two-ion over the single-ion anisotropy in determining the planar spin texture; the strength and the sign of single ion anisotropy, together with the magnitude of the magnetic field, tune the perpendicular spin components, mostly affecting the polarity (and, in turn, the topology) of the spin texture. Our analysis confirms the crucial role of the anisotropic symmetric exchange in systems with dominant short-range interactions; at the same time, we predict a rich variety of complex magnetic textures, which may arise from a fine tuning of competing anisotropic mechanisms.
The magnetic properties of the two-dimensional VI3 bilayer are the focus of our first-principles analysis, highlighting the role of t2g orbital splitting and carried out in comparison with the CrI3 prototypical case, where the splitting is negligible. In VI3 bilayers, the empty a1g state is found to play a crucial role in both stabilizing the insulating state and in determining the interlayer magnetic interaction. Indeed, an analysis based on maximally localized Wannier functions allows one to evaluate the interlayer exchange interactions in two different VI3 stackings (labeled AB and AB′), to interpret the results in terms of the virtual-hopping mechanism, and to highlight the strongest hopping channels underlying the magnetic interlayer coupling. Upon application of electric fields perpendicular to the slab, we find that the magnetic ground state in the AB′ stacking can be switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic, suggesting the VI3 bilayer as an appealing candidate for electric-field-driven miniaturized spintronic devices.
We investigated the relationship between ferromagnetism and metallicity in strained La0.67Ca0.33MnO3 films grown on lattice-mismatched NdGaO3 (001) by means of spectroscopic techniques directly sensitive to the ferromagnetic state, to the band structure, and to the chemical state of the atoms. In this system, the ferromagnetic metallic (FMM) phase spatially coexists with an insulating one in most of the phase diagram. First, the observation of an almost 100% spin polarization of the photoelectrons at the Fermi level in the fundamental state provides direct evidence of the half-metallicity of the FMM phase, a result that has been previously observed through direct probing of the valence band only on unstrained, phase-homogeneous La0.67Sr0.33MnO3. Second, the spin polarization results to be correlated with the occupancy at the Fermi level for all the investigated temperature regimes. These outcomes show that the half-metallic behavior predicted by a double-exchange model persists even in phase-separated manganites. Moreover, the correlation between metallicity and ferromagnetic alignment is confirmed by X-ray magnetic circular dichroism, a more bulk-sensitive technique, allowing one to explain transport properties in terms of the conduction through aligned FMM domains.
Probing the energy and spin electron properties of materials by means of photoemission spectroscopy gives insights into the low-energy phenomena of matter driven by spin orbit coupling or exchange interaction. The information that can be derived from complete photoelectron spectroscopy experiments, beyond E(k), is contained in the photoemission transition matrix elements that determine peak intensities. We present here a complete photoemission study of the spin-polarized bands of 2H−NbSe2, a material that presents a surface spin-texture. Circular dichroism in angular-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (CD-ARPES) data are compared with spin-polarized angular-resolved spectra (SARPES) as measured with linearly polarized radiation in a well-characterized experimental chirality, at selected photon energy values. CD-ARPES is due to a matrix element effect that depends strongly on photon energy and experimental geometry: we show that it cannot be used to infer intrinsic spin properties in 2H−NbSe2. On the other hand, SARPES data provide reliable direct information on the spin properties of the electron states. The results on 2H−NbSe2 are discussed, and general methodological conclusions are drawn on the best experimental approach to the determination of the spin texture of quantum materials.
Dirac semimetals are classified into different phases based on the types of Dirac fermions. Tuning the transition among different types of Dirac fermions in one system remains a challenge. Recently, KMgBi was predicted to be located at a critical state in which various types of Dirac fermions can be induced owing to the existence of a flatband. Here, we carried out systematic studies on the electronic structure of KMgBi single crystals by combining angle-resolve photoemission spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy. The flatband was clearly observed near the Fermi level. We also revealed a small bandgap of ∼20 meV between the flatband and the conduction band. These results demonstrate the critical states of KMgBi that transition among various types of Dirac fermions can be tuned in one system.
The femtosecond evolution of the electronic temperature of laser-excited gold nanoparticles is measured, by means of ultrafast time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy induced by extreme-ultraviolet radiation pulses. The temperature of the electron gas is deduced by recording and fitting high-resolution photo emission spectra around the Fermi edge of gold nanoparticles providing a direct, unambiguous picture of the ultrafast electron-gas dynamics. These results will be instrumental to the refinement of existing models of femtosecond processes in laterally-confined and bulk condensed-matter systems, and for understanding more deeply the role of hot electrons in technological applications.
Chirality and magnetism of molecules are two properties that in the last years raised notable interest for the development of novel molecular devices. Chiral helicenes combine these functionalities, and their nanostructuration is the first step toward developing new multifunctional devices. Here, we present a novel assembling strategy to deposit a sub‐monolayer of enantiopure thiahelicene radical cations on a pre‐functionalized Au(111) substrate permitting the persistence of both the paramagnetic character and chirality of these molecules at the nanoscale. In‐house characterizations demonstrated the retention of the chemical and paramagnetic properties after the deposition process. Furthermore, synchrotron‐based X‐ray natural circular dichroism confirmed that the handedness of the thiahelicene is preserved on the surface.
Quantum materials are central for the development of novel functional systems that are often based on interface specific phenomena. Fabricating controlled interfaces between quantum materials requires adopting a flexible growth technique capable to synthesize different materials within a single-run deposition process with high control of structure, stoichiometry, and termination. Among the various available thin film growth technologies, pulsed laser deposition (PLD) allows controlling the growth of diverse materials at the level of single atomic layers. In PLD the atomic species are supplied through an ablation process of a stoichiometric target either in form of polycrystalline powders or of a single crystal. No carrier gases are needed in the deposition process. The ablation process is compatible with a wide range of background pressure. We present results of thin-film growth by PLD obtained by using an Nd:YAG infrared pulsed laser source operating at its first harmonics. With respect to the traditional PLD systems—based on excimer KrF UV-lasers—optimal conditions for the growth of thin films and heterostructures are reached at large target-to-substrate distance. Merits and limitations of this approach for growing oxide and non-oxide thin films are discussed. The merits of an Nd:YAG laser to grow very high-quality thin films suggest the possibility of implementing compact in-situ setups e.g. integrated with analytical instrumentation under ultra-high vacuum conditions.
We report on the electronic properties of an artificial system obtained by the intercalation of equiatomic FeCo layers under graphene grownon Ir(111). Upon intercalation, the FeCo film grows epitaxially on Ir(111), resulting in a lattice-mismatched system. By performing densityfunctional theory calculations, we show that the intercalated FeCo layer leads to a pronounced corrugation of the graphene film. At the sametime, the FeCo intercalated layers induce a clear transition from a nearly undisturbed to a strongly hybridized graphenep-band, as measuredby angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. A comparison of experimental results with the computed band structure and the projecteddensity of states unveils a spin-selective hybridization between thepband of graphene and FeCo-3dstates. Our results demonstrate that thereduced dimensionality, as well as the hybridization within the FeCo layers, induces a narrowing and a clear splitting of Fe 3d-up and Fe3d-down-spin bands of the confined FeCo layers with respect to bulk Fe and Co.
In this work, we investigate the effects of the V2O3 structural phase transition on the magnetic properties of an amorphous magnetic thin film of CoFeB in contact with it. V2O3 thin films are deposited epitaxially on sapphire substrates, reaching bulklike properties after few nm of growth. By means of temperature dependent Kerr effect characterizations, we prove that crossing the V2O3 structural phase transition induces reproducible and reversible changes to CoFeB magnetic properties, especially to its coercive field. By decreasing the oxide layer thickness, its effects on the magnetic layer decreases, while reducing the magnetic layer thickness maximizes it, with a maximum of 330% coercive field variation found between the two V2O3 structural phases. By simply tuning the temperature, this systematic study shows that the engineering of V2O3 structural transition induces large interfacial strain and thus strong magnetic property variations to an amorphous thin film, opening wide possibilities in implementing strain-driven control of the magnetic behavior without strict requirements on epitaxial coherence at the interface.
In non-magnetic materials the combination of inversion symmetry breaking (ISB) and spin-orbit coupling (SOC) determines the spin polarization of the band structure. However, a local spin polarization can also arise in centrosymmetric crystals containing ISB subunits. This is namely the case for the nodal-line semimetal ZrSiTe where, by combining spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy with ab initio band structure calculations, we reveal a complex spin polarization. In the bulk, the valence and conduction bands exhibit opposite spin orientations in two spatially separated two-dimensional ZrTe sectors within the unit cell, yielding no net polarization. We also observe spin-polarized surface states that are well separated in energy and momentum from the bulk bands. A layer-by-layer analysis of the spin polarization allows us to unveil the complex evolution of the signal in the bulk states near the surface, thus bringing the intertwined nature of surface and bulk effects to the fore.
The advent of topological semimetals enables the exploitation of symmetry-protected
topological phenomena and quantized transport. Here, we present homogeneous rectifiers,
converting high-frequency electromagnetic energy into direct current, based on low-energy
Dirac fermions of topological semimetal-NiTe2, with state-of-the-art efficiency already in the
first implementation. Explicitly, these devices display room-temperature photosensitivity as
high as 251 mA W−1 at 0.3 THz in an unbiased mode, with a photocurrent anisotropy ratio of
22, originating from the interplay between the spin-polarized surface and bulk states. Device
performances in terms of broadband operation, high dynamic range, as well as their high
sensitivity, validate the immense potential and unique advantages associated to the control of
nonequilibrium gapless topological states via built-in electric field, electromagnetic polar-
ization and symmetry breaking in topological semimetals. These findings pave the way for the
exploitation of topological phase of matter for high-frequency operations in polarization-
sensitive sensing, communications and imaging.
The role of X-ray based electron spectroscopies in determining chemical, electronic, and magnetic properties of solids has been well-known for several decades. A powerful approach is angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, whereby the kinetic energy and angle of photoelectrons emitted from a sample surface are measured. This provides a direct measurement of the electronic band structure of crystalline solids. Moreover, it yields powerful insights into the electronic interactions at play within a material and into the control of spin, charge, and orbital degrees of freedom, central pillars of future solid state science. With strong recent focus on research of lower-dimensional materials and modified electronic behavior at surfaces and interfaces, angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy has become a core technique in the study of quantum materials. In this review, we provide an introduction to the technique. Through examples from several topical materials systems, including topological insulators, transition metal dichalcogenides, and transition metal oxides, we highlight the types of information which can be obtained. We show how the combination of angle, spin, time, and depth-resolved experiments are able to reveal “hidden” spectral features, connected to semiconducting, metallic and magnetic properties of solids, as well as underlining the importance of dimensional effects in quantum materials.
Research on ultrathin quantum materials requires full control of the growth and surface quality of the specimens in order to perform experiments on their atomic structure and electron states leading to ultimate analysis of their intrinsic properties. We report results on epitaxial FeSe thin films grown by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) on CaF2 (001) substrates as obtained by exploiting the advantages of an all-in-situ ultra-high vacuum (UHV) laboratory allowing for direct high-resolution surface analysis by scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM), synchrotron radiation X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) on fresh surfaces. FeSe PLD growth protocols were fine-tuned by optimizing target-to-substrate distance d and ablation frequency, atomically flat terraces with unit-cell step heights are obtained, overcoming the spiral morphology often observed by others. In-situ ARPES with linearly polarized horizontal and vertical radiation shows hole-like and electron-like pockets at the Γ and M points of the Fermi surface, consistent with previous observations on cleaved single crystal surfaces. The control achieved in growing quantum materials with volatile elements such as Se by in-situ PLD makes it possible to address the fine analysis of the surfaces by in-situ ARPES and XPS. The study opens wide avenues for the PLD based heterostructures as work-bench for the understanding of proximity-driven effects and for the development of prospective devices based on combinations of quantum materials.
Perovskite-based heterostructures have recently gained remarkable interest, thanks to atomic-scale precision engineering. These systems are very susceptible to small variations of control parameters, such as two-dimensionality, strain, lattice polarizability, and doping. Focusing on the rare-earth nickelate diagram, LaNiO3 (LNO) catches the eye, being the only nickelate that does not undergo a metal-to-insulator transition (MIT). Therefore, the ground state of LNO has been studied in several theoretical and experimental papers. Here, we show by means of infrared spectroscopy that an MIT can be driven by dimensionality control in ultrathin LNO films when the number of unit cells drops to 2. Such a dimensionality tuning can eventually be tailored when a physically implemented monolayer in the ultrathin films is replaced by a digital single layer embedded in the Ruddlesden–Popper Lan+1NinO3n+1 series. We provide spectroscopic evidence that the dimensionality-induced MIT in Ruddlesden–Popper nickelates strongly resembles that of ultrathin LNO films. Our results can pave the way to the employment of Ruddlesden–Popper Lan+1NinO3n+1 to tune the electronic properties of LNO through dimensional transition without the need of physically changing the number of unit cells in thin films.
Solid oxide photoelectrochemical cells (SOPECs) with inorganic ion-conducting electrolytes provide an alternative solution for light harvesting and conversion. Exploring potential photoelectrodes for SOPECs and understanding their operation mechanisms are crucial for continuously developing this technology. Here, ceria-based thin films were newly explored as photoelectrodes for SOPEC applications. It was found that the photoresponse of ceria-based thin films can be tuned both by Sm-doping-induced defects and by the heating temperature of SOPECs. The whole process was found to depend on the surface electrochemical redox reactions synergistically with the bulk photoelectric effect. Samarium doping level can selectively switch the open-circuit voltages polarity of SOPECs under illumination, thus shifting the potential of photoelectrodes and changing their photoresponse. The role of defect chemistry engineering in determining such a photoelectrochemical process was discussed. Transient absorption and X-ray photoemission spectroscopies, together with the state-of-the-art in operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy, allowed us to provide a compelling explanation of the experimentally observed switching behavior on the basis of the surface reactions and successive charge balance in the bulk.
The electronic properties of hole- and electron-doped manganites were probed by a combination of x-ray absorption and photoemission spectroscopies. Hole-doped La0.7Ba0.3MnO3 and electron-doped La0.7Ce0.3MnO3 thin films were epitaxially grown on SrTiO3 substrates by means of pulsed laser deposition. Ex-situ x-ray diffraction demonstrated the substrate/film epitaxy relation and in-situ low energy electron diffraction provided evidence of high structural order of film surfaces. By combining synchrotron x-ray absorption and x-ray photoemission spectroscopy, evidence of Mn ions into a 2+ state as a result of the Ce substitution in the electron-doped manganites was provided. Angular resolved photo-emission spectroscopy (ARPES) results showed a predominance of z2-orbitals at the surface of both hole- and, unexpectedly, electron-doped manganites thus questioning the validity of the commonly accepted scenario describing the electron filling in manganites’ 3d orbitals in oxide manganites. The precise determination of the electronic and orbital properties of the terminating layers of oxide manganites paves the way for engineering multi-layered heterostructures thus leading to novel opportunities in the field of quantum electronics.
In this work, we present an investigation on the effects of thermal annealing on the magnetic response of Lithium Niobate/Fe samples. Fe thin films have been deposited on Lithium Niobate Z-cut ferroelectric substrates by vapor phase epitaxy. A series of annealing treatments were performed on the samples, monitoring the evolution of their magnetic properties, both at the surface and on the volume. The combination of structural, magnetic, chemical and morphological characterizations shows that the modification of the chemical properties, i.e. the phase decomposition, of the substrate upon annealing affects drastically the magnetic behavior of the interfacial Fe layer. By tuning the annealing temperature, the magnetic coercive field value can be increased by an order of magnitude compared to the as-grown value, keeping the same in-plane isotropic behavior. Since no evident differences were recorded in the Fe layer from the chemical point of view, we attribute the origin of this effect to an intermixing process between a fragment of the substrate and the Fe thin film upon critical temperature annealing, process that is also is responsible for the observed changes in roughness and morphology of the magnetic thin film.
A ferromagnetic (FM) thin film deposited on a substrate of Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3−PbTiO3 (PMN-PT) is an appealing heterostructure for the electrical control of magnetism, which would enable nonvolatile memories with ultralow-power consumption. Reversible and electrically controlled morphological changes at the surface of PMN-PT suggest that the magnetoelectric effects are more complex than the commonly used “strain-mediated” description. Here we show that changes in substrate morphology intervene in magnetoelectric coupling as a key parameter interplaying with strain. Magnetic-sensitive microscopy techniques are used to study magnetoelectric coupling in Fe/PMN-PT at different length scales, and compare different substrate cuts. The observed rotation of the magnetic anisotropy is connected to the changes in morphology, and mapped in the crack pattern at the mesoscopic scale. Ferroelectric polarization switching induces a magnetic field-free rotation of the magnetic domains at micrometer scale, with a wide distribution of rotation angles. Our results show that the relationship between the rotation of the magnetic easy axis and the rotation of the in-plane component of the electric polarization is not straightforward, as well as the relationship between ferroelectric domains and crack pattern. The understanding and control of this phenomenon is crucial to develop functional devices based on FM/PMN-PT heterostructures.
Trigonal tellurium, a small-gap semiconductor with pronounced magneto-electric and magneto-optical responses, is among the simplest realizations of a chiral crystal. We have studied by spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy its unconventional electronic structure and unique spin texture. We identify Kramers–Weyl, composite, and accordionlike Weyl fermions, so far only predicted by theory, and show that the spin polarization is parallel to the wave vector along the lines in k space connecting high-symmetry points. Our results clarify the symmetries that enforce such spin texture in a chiral crystal, thus bringing new insight in the formation of a spin vectorial field more complex than the previously proposed hedgehog configuration. Our findings thus pave the way to a classification scheme for these exotic spin textures and their search in chiral crystals.
Topological spin structures, such as magnetic skyrmions, hold great promises for data storage applications, thanks to their inherent stability. In most cases, skyrmions are stabilized by magnetic fields in non-centrosymmetric systems displaying the chiral Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya exchange interaction, while spontaneous skyrmion lattices have been reported in centrosymmetric itinerant magnets with long-range interactions. Here, a spontaneous anti-biskyrmion lattice with unique topology and chirality is predicted in the monolayer of a semiconducting and centrosymmetric metal halide, NiI2. Our first-principles and Monte Carlo simulations reveal that the anisotropies of the short-range symmetric exchange, when combined with magnetic frustration, can lead to an emergent chiral interaction that is responsible for the predicted topological spin structures. The proposed mechanism finds a prototypical manifestation in two-dimensional magnets, thus broadening the class of materials that can host spontaneous skyrmionic states. Skyrmions, topological spin textures, are typically stabilized by the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction and an applied magnetic field. In this theoretical study, by analysing monolayer NiI2, the authors suggest that two-site anisotropy with magnetic frustration can stabilize a skyrmion lattice.
THORONDOR is a data treatment software with a graphical user interface (GUI) accessible via the browser‐based Jupyter notebook framework. It aims to provide an interactive and user‐friendly tool for the analysis of NEXAFS spectra collected during in situ experiments. The program allows on‐the‐fly representation and quick correction of large datasets from single or multiple experiments. In particular, it provides the possibility to align in energy several spectral profiles on the basis of user‐defined references. Various techniques to calculate background subtraction and signal normalization have been made available. In this context, an innovation of this GUI involves the usage of a slider‐based approach that provides the ability to instantly manipulate and visualize processed data for the user. Finally, the program is characterized by an advanced fitting toolbox based on the lmfit package. It offers a large selection of fitting routines as well as different peak distributions and empirical ionization potential step edges, which can be used for the fit of the NEXAFS rising‐edge peaks. Statistical parameters describing the goodness of a fit such as χ2 or the R‐factor together with the parameter uncertainty distributions and the related correlations can be extracted for each chosen model.
The study of ionic materials on nanometer scale is of great relevance for efficient miniaturized devices for energy applications. The epitaxial growth of thin films can be a valid route to tune the properties of the materials and thus obtain new degrees of freedom in materials design. High crystal quality SmxCe1-xO2-δ films are here reported at high doping level up to x=0.4, thanks to the good lat-tice matching with the (110) oriented NdGaO3 substrate. X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy demonstrate the ordered structural quality and absence of Sm segregation at macroscopic and atomic level, respectively. Therefore, in epitaxial thin films the homogeneous doping can be obtained even with high dopant content not always approachable in bulk form, getting even an improvement of the structural properties. In situ spectroscopic measurements by x-ray photoemission and x-ray absorption show the O 2p band shift towards the Fermi level which can favor the oxygen exchange and vacancy formation on the surface when the Sm doping is increased to x=0.4. X-ray absorption spectroscopy also confirms the absence of ordered oxygen vacancy clusters and further reveals that the 5d eg and t2g states are well separated by the crystal field in the undistorted local structure even in the case of high doping level x=0.4.
Metal monochalcogenides (MX) have recently been rediscovered as two-dimensional materials with electronic properties highly dependent on the number of layers. Although some intriguing properties appear in the few-layer regime, the carrier mobility of MX compounds increases with the number of layers, motivating the interest in multilayered heterostructures or bulk materials. By means of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) measurements and density functional theory calculations, we compare the electronic band structure of bulk ε−GaSe and ε-InSe semiconductors. We focus our attention on the top valence band of the two compounds along main symmetry directions, discussing the effect of spin-orbit coupling and contributions from post-transition-metal (Ga or In) and Se atoms. Our results show that the top valence band at Γ point is dominated by Se pz states, while the main effect of Ga or In appears more deeply in binding energy, at the Brillouin zone corners, and in the conduction band. These findings explain also the experimental observation of a hole effective mass rather insensitive to the post-transition metal. Finally, by means of spin-resolved ARPES and surface band structure calculations we describe Rashba-Bychkov spin splitting of surface states in ε−InSe.
Oxygen vacancies are known to play a crucial role in tuning the physical properties and technological applications of titanium dioxide TiO2. Over the last decades, defects in substoichiometric TiO2 have been commonly associated with the formation of TinO2n–x Magnéli phases, which are extended planar defects originating from crystallographic shear planes. By combining advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques, electron energy-loss spectroscopy and atomistic simulations, we reach new understanding of the oxygen vacancy induced structural modulations in anatase, ruling out the earlier shear-plane model. Structural modulations are instead shown to be due to the formation of oxygen vacancy superstructures that extend periodically inside the films, preserving the crystalline order of anatase. Elucidating the structure of oxygen defects in anatase is a crucial step for improving the functionalities of such material system and to engineer devices with targeted properties.
Two-dimensional (2D) alloys represent a versatile platform that extends the properties of atomically thin transition-metal dichalcogenides. Here, using molecular beam epitaxy, we investigate the growth of 2D vanadium-molybdenum diselenide alloys, VxMo1–xSe2, on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite and unveil their structural, chemical, and electronic integrities via measurements by scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy, synchrotron X-ray photoemission, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Essentially, we found a critical value of x = ∼0.44, below which phase separation occurs and above which a homogeneous metallic phase is favored. Another observation is an effective increase in the density of mirror twin boundaries of constituting MoSe2 in the low V concentration regime (x ≤ 0.05). Density functional theory calculations support our experimental results on the thermal stability of 2D VxMo1–xSe2 alloys and suggest an H phase of the homogeneous alloys with alternating parallel V and Mo strips randomly in-plane stacked. Element-specific XAS of the 2D alloys, which clearly indicates quenched atomic multiplets similar to the case of 2H-VSe2, provides strong evidence for the H phase of the 2D alloys. This work provides a comprehensive understanding of the thermal stability, chemical state, and electronic structure of 2D VxMo1–xSe2 alloys, useful for the future design of 2D electronic devices.
The electronic properties of strontium ruthenate SrRuO3perovskite oxide thin filmsare modified by epitaxial strain, as determined by growing on different substrates by pulsedlaser deposition. Temperature dependence of the transport properties indicates that tensilestrain deformation of the SrRuO3unit cell reduces the metallicity of the material as well as itsmetal-insulator-transition (MIT) temperature. On the contrary, the shrinkage of the Ru–O–Rubuckling angle due to compressive strain is counterweighted by the increased overlap of theconduction Ru-4d orbitals with the O-2p ones due to the smaller interatomic distances resulting intoan increased MIT temperature, i.e., a more conducting material. In particular, in the more metallicsamples, the core level X-ray photoemission spectroscopy lineshapes show the occurrence of anextra-peak at the lower binding energies of the main Ru-3d peak that is attributed to screening,as observed in volume sensitive photoemission of the unstrained material.
Here, we present an integrated ultra-high vacuum apparatus—named MBE-Cluster —dedicated to the growth and in situ structural, spectroscopic, and magnetic characterization of complex materials. Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) growth of metal oxides, e.g., manganites, and deposition of the patterned metallic layers can be fabricated and in situ characterized by reflection high-energy electron diffraction, low-energy electron diffraction, Auger electron spectroscopy, x-ray photoemission spectroscopy, and azimuthal longitudinal magneto-optic Kerr effect. The temperature can be controlled in the range from 5 K to 580 K, with the possibility of application of magnetic fields H up to ±7 kOe and electric fields E for voltages up to ±500 V. The MBE-Cluster operates for in-house research as well as user facility in combination with the APE beamlines at Sincrotrone-Trieste and the high harmonic generator facility for time-resolved spectroscopy.
In the framework of piezoelectric/ferromagnetic patterned heterostructures, the purpose of this work is to electrically control the magnetic properties by tuning the morphology, especially by modifying the magnetic shape anisotropy through patterned strain. We have thus designed and studied a heterostructure with bottom nano-striped and top full film electrodes. ZnO piezoelectric and CoFeB magnetic materials were chosen to respond at critical criteria of its geometry. In addition, numerical simulations and magnetostatic calculations were performed to understand the reproduction of the pattern across the multiferroic heterostructure. Calculations have shown that the geometry of the heterostructure presents strict constraints, as for instance the distance between stripes versus the piezoelectric thickness. This study is a preliminary step towards reversible patterning of magnetic properties.
Out-of-plane Ga2Se3 nanowires are grown by molecular beam epitaxy via Au-assisted heterovalent exchange reaction on GaAs substrates in the absence of Ga deposition. It is shown that at a suitable temperature around 560 degrees C the Audecorated GaAs substrate releases Ga atoms, which react with the incoming Se and feed the nanowire growth. The nanowire composition, crystal structure, and morphology are characterized by Raman spectroscopy and electron microscopy. The growth mechanism is investigated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. We explore the growth parameter window and find an interesting effect of shortening of the nanowires after a certain maximum length. The nanowire growth is described within a diffusion transport model, which explains the nonmonotonic behavior of the nanowire length versus the growth parameters. Nanowire shortening is explained by the blocking of Ga supply from the GaAs substrate by thick, in-plane worm-like Ga2Se3 structures, which grow concomitantly with the nanowires, followed by backward diffusion of Ga atoms from the nanowires down to the substrate surface.
Ti silicates, and in particular Titanium Silicalite‐1 (TS‐1), are nowadays important catalysts for several partial oxidation reactions in the presence of aqueous H 2 O 2 as oxidant. Despite the numerous studies dealing with this material, some fundamental aspects are still unfathomed. In particular, the structure and the catalytic role of defective Ti sites, other than perfect tetrahedral sites recognized as main active species, has not been quantitatively discussed in the literature. In this work, we assess the structural features of defective Ti sites on the basis of electronic spectroscopies outcomes, as interpreted through quantum‐mechanical simulation. We disclose here strong evidences that the most common defective Ti sites, often reported in the TS‐1 literature, are monomeric Ti centers, embedded in the zeolite framework, having a distorted octahedral local symmetry.
Ambient pressure operando soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (soft-XAS) was applied to study the reactivity of hydroxylated SnO2 nanoparticles towards reducing gases. H2 was first used as a test case, showing that gas phase and surface states can be simultaneously probed: soft-XAS at the O K-edge gains sensitivity towards the gas phase, while at the Sn M4,5-edges tin surface states are explicitly probed. Results obtained by flowing hydrocarbons (CH4 and CH3CHCH2) unequivocally show that these gases react with surface hydroxyl groups to produce water without producing carbon oxides, and release electrons that localize on Sn to eventually form SnO. The partially reduced SnO2-x layer at the surface of SnO2 is readily reoxidised to SnO2 by treating the sample with O2 at mild temperatures (> 200 °C), revealing the nature of “electron sponge” of tin oxide. The experiments, combined with DFT calculations, allowed devising a mechanism for dissociative hydrocarbon adsorption on SnO2, involving direct reduction of Sn sites at the surface via cleavage of C-H bonds, and the formation of methoxy- and/or methyl-tin species at the surface.
Bulk PtSn4 has recently attracted the interest of the scientific community for the presence of electronic states exhibiting Dirac node arcs, enabling possible applications in nanoelectronics. Here, by means of surface-science experiments and density functional theory, we assess its suitability for catalysis by studying the chemical reactivity of the (0 1 0)-oriented PtSn4 surface toward CO, H2O, O2 molecules at room temperature and, moreover, its stability in air. We demonstrate that the catalytic activity of PtSn4 is determined by the composition of the outermost atomic layer. Specifically, we find that the surface termination for PtSn4 crystals cleaved in vacuum is an atomic Sn layer, which is totally free from any CO poisoning. In oxygen-rich environment, as well as in ambient atmosphere, the surface termination is a SnOx skin including SnO and SnO2 in comparable amount. However, valence-band states, including those forming Dirac node arcs, are only slightly affected by surface modifications. The astonishingly beneficial influence of surface oxidation on catalytic activity has been demonstrated by electrocatalytic tests evidencing a reduction of the Tafel slope, from 442 down to 86 mV dec−1, whose origin has been explained by our theoretical model. The use of surface-science tools to tune the chemical reactivity of PtSn4 opens the way toward its effective use in catalysis, especially for hydrogen evolution reaction and oxygen evolution reaction.
The local atomic structure and the magnetic response of Co films intercalated between Graphene and Ir(111) were investigated combining polarized X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy at the Co K edge with Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect. The structural and magnetic evolution upon a 500 °C annealing was evaluated as a function of the film thickness. After the thermal treatment, our thick film (10 monolayers) presented a lower perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) as well as a reduced average structural disorder. On the other hand, in our thin film (5 monolayers), the annealing enhanced the perpendicular magnetic response and induced a local anisotropy by stretching the Co-Co bonds in the film plane and compressing those outside the plane. Our finding emphasizes the close relationship between the local structure of Co within the film and its magnetic properties.
We investigate the temperature-dependent electronic structure of the van der Waals ferromagnet, CrGeTe3. Using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we identify atomic- and orbital-specific band shifts upon cooling through TC. From these, together with x-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism measurements, we identify the states created by a covalent bond between the Te 5p and the Cr eg orbitals as the primary driver of the ferromagnetic ordering in this system, while it is the Cr t2g states that carry the majority of the spin moment. The t2g states furthermore exhibit a marked bandwidth increase and a remarkable lifetime enhancement upon entering the ordered phase, pointing to a delicate interplay between localized and itinerant states in this family of layered ferromagnets.
The mechanisms of CO oxidation on the Mg0.2Co0.2Ni0.2Cu0.2Zn0.2O high entropy oxide were studied by means of operando soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy. We found that Cu is the active metal, and that Cu(II) can be rapidly reduced to Cu(I) by CO when the temperature is larger than 130 °C. Co and Ni do not have any role in this respect. The Cu(II) oxidation state can be easily but slowly recovered by treating the sample in O2 at ca. 250 °C. However, it should be noted that CuO is readily and irreversibly reduced to Cu(I) if treated in CO at T>100 °C. Thus, the main conclusion of this work is that the high configurational entropy of Mg0.2Co0.2Ni0.2Cu0.2Zn0.2O stabilizes the rock-salt structure and permits the oxidation/reduction of Cu to be reversible, thus permitting the catalytic cycle to take place.
The electronic properties of anatase titanium dioxide (TiO2) thin films epitaxially grown on LaAlO3 substrates are investigated by synchrotron-x-ray spectroscopy [x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS), and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES)] and infrared spectroscopy. The Ti3+ fraction in TiO2−x is varied either by changing the oxygen pressure during deposition or by postgrowth annealing in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV). Structural investigation of the TiO2 thin films provides evidence of highly uniform crystallographic order in both as-grown and in situ UHV-annealed samples. The increased amount of Ti3+ as a consequence of UHV annealing is calibrated by in situ XPS and XAS analysis. The as-grown TiO2 samples, with a low Ti3+ concentration, show distinct electronic properties with respect to the annealed films, namely, absorption in the midinfrared (MIR) region correlated with polaron formation, and another peak in the visible range at 1.6 eV correlated with the presence of localized defect states (DSs). With the increasing level of Ti3+ induced by the postannealing process, the MIR peak disappears, while the DS peak is redshifted to the near-infrared region at about 1.0 eV. These results indicate the possibility of tailoring the optical absorption of anatase TiO2 films from the visible to the near-infrared region.
Chiral crystal YbNi3Ga9 is known as an intermediate valence compound in which a strong hybridization between the 4f orbitals and the conduction band is present. The Co-substitution to YbNi3Ga9 works as a hole doping that reduces the Kondo temperature and enhances the effective mass of itinerant charge carriers. Using angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, the complex band structure of Yb(Ni1−xCox)3Ga9 (x=0,0.1) is revealed. A Yb2+ 4f7/2 band and evidences of hybridization to valence bands are found near the Fermi level. Both YbNi3Ga9 and the Co-substituted compound exhibit double hexagonal Fermi surfaces centered at the Γ¯-point, surrounded by a large snowflake-like surface, and a triangular electron-like surface along the Γ¯M¯ direction. By changing the incident photon energy, the band dispersion along the c-axis and the barrel-shaped Fermi surface is observed.
Two-dimensional (2D) metallic states induced by oxygen vacancies (VOs) at oxide surfaces and interfaces provide opportunities for the development of advanced applications, but the ability to control the behavior of these states is still limited. We used angle resolved photoelectron spectroscopy combined with density-functional theory (DFT) to study the reactivity of VO-induced states at the (001) surface of anatase TiO2, where both 2D metallic and deeper lying in-gap states (IGs) are observed. The 2D and IG states exhibit remarkably different evolutions when the surface is exposed to molecular O2: while IGs are almost completely quenched, the metallic states are only weakly affected. DFT calculations indeed show that the IGs originate from surface VOs and remain localized at the surface, where they can promptly react with O2. In contrast, the metallic states originate from subsurface vacancies whose migration to the surface for recombination with O2 is kinetically hindered on anatase TiO2 (001), thus making them much less sensitive to oxygen dosing.
We present the results of a photon energy and polarization dependent angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) study on high quality, epitaxial SrNbO3 thin films prepared in situ by pulsed laser deposition (PLD). We show that the Fermi surface is composed of three bands mainly due to t(2g) orbitals of Nb 4d, in analogy with the 3d-based perovskite systems. The bulk band dispersion for the conduction and valence states obtained by density functional theory (DFT) is generally consistent with the ARPES data. The small discrepancy in the bandwidth close to the Fermi level seems to result from the interplay of correlation effects and the presence of vacancies. The ARPES results are complemented by soft x-ray photoemission spectroscopy measurements in order to provide indications on the chemical states and the stoichiometry of the material.
Among transition-metal dichalcogenides, mono and few-layers thick VSe2 has gained much recent attention following claims of intrinsic room-temperature ferromagnetism in this system, which have nonetheless proved controversial. Here, we address the magnetic and chemical properties of Fe/VSe2 heterostructure by combining element sensitive x-ray absorption spectroscopy and photoemission spectroscopy. Our x-ray magnetic circular dichroism results confirm recent findings that both native mono/few-layer and bulk VSe2 do not show intrinsic ferromagnetic ordering. Nonetheless, we find that ferromagnetism can be induced, even at room temperature, after coupling with a Fe thin film layer, with antiparallel alignment of the moment on the V with respect to Fe. We further consider the chemical reactivity at the Fe/VSe2 interface and its relation with interfacial magnetic coupling.
Band inversions are key to stabilising a variety of novel electronic states in solids, from topological surface states to the formation of symmetry-protected three-dimensional Dirac and Weyl points and nodal-line semimetals. Here, we create a band inversion not of bulk states, but rather between manifolds of surface states. We realise this by aliovalent substitution of Nb for Zr and Sb for S in the ZrSiS family of nonsymmorphic semimetals. Using angle-resolved photoemission and density-functional theory, we show how two pairs of surface states, known from ZrSiS, are driven to intersect each other near the Fermi level in NbGeSb, and to develop pronounced spin splittings. We demonstrate how mirror symmetry leads to protected crossing points in the resulting spin-orbital entangled surface band structure, thereby stabilising surface state analogues of three-dimensional Weyl points. More generally, our observations suggest new opportunities for engineering topologically and symmetry-protected states via band inversions of surface states.
Implementation of in-situ and operando experimental set-ups for bridging the pressure gap in characterization techniques based on monitoring of photoelectron emission has made significant achievements at several beamlines at Elettra synchrotron facility. These set-ups are now operational and have been successfully used to address unsolved issues exploring events occurring at solid–gas, solid–liquid and solid-solid interfaces of functional materials. The sections in the article communicate the research opportunities offered by the current set-ups at APE, BACH, ESCAmicroscopy and Nanospectroscopy beamlines and outline the next steps to overcome the present limits.
We predict NiTe2 to be a type-II Dirac semimetal based on ab initio calculations and explore its bulk and spin-polarized surface states using spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (spin-ARPES). Our results show that, unlike PtTe2, PtSe2, and PdTe2, the Dirac node in NiTe2 is located in close vicinity to the Fermi energy. Additionally, NiTe2 also hosts a pair of band inversions below the Fermi level along the Γ−A high-symmetry direction, with one of them leading to a Dirac cone in the surface states. The bulk Dirac nodes and the ladder of band inversions in NiTe2 support unique topological surface states with chiral spin texture over a wide range of energies. Our work paves the way for the exploitation of the low-energy type-II Dirac fermions in NiTe2 in the fields of spintronics, infrared plasmonics, and ultrafast optoelectronics.
The tetragonal phase of chromium (III) oxide, although unstable in the bulk, can be synthesized in epitaxial heterostructures. Theoretical investigation by density-functional theory predicts an antiferromagnetic ground state for this compound. We demonstrate experimentally antiferromagnetism up to 40 K in ultrathin films of t−Cr2O3 by electrical measurements exploiting interface effect within a neighboring ultrathin Pt layer. We show that magnetotransport in Pt is affected by both spin-Hall magnetoresistance and magnetic proximity effect while we exclude any role of magnetism for the low-temperature resistance anomaly observed in Pt.
Palladium ditelluride (PdTe2) is a novel transition‐metal dichalcogenide exhibiting type‐II Dirac fermions and topological superconductivity. To assess its potential in technology, its chemical and thermal stability is investigated by means of surface‐science techniques, complemented by density functional theory, with successive implementation in electronics, specifically in a millimeter‐wave receiver. While water adsorption is energetically unfavorable at room temperature, due to a differential Gibbs free energy of ≈+12 kJ mol−1, the presence of Te vacancies makes PdTe2 surfaces unstable toward surface oxidation with the emergence of a TeO2 skin, whose thickness remains sub‐nanometric even after one year in air. Correspondingly, the measured photocurrent of PdTe2‐based optoelectronic devices shows negligible changes (below 4%) in a timescale of one month, thus excluding the need of encapsulation in the nanofabrication process. Remarkably, the responsivity of a PdTe2‐based millimeter‐wave receiver is 13 and 21 times higher than similar devices based on black phosphorus and graphene in the same operational conditions, respectively. It is also discovered that pristine PdTe2 is thermally stable in a temperature range extending even above 500 K, thus paving the way toward PdTe2‐based high‐temperature electronics. Finally, it is shown that the TeO2 skin, formed upon air exposure, can be removed by thermal reduction via heating in vacuum.
Transparent conductive oxides are a class of materials that combine high optical transparency with high electrical conductivity. This property makes them uniquely appealing as transparent conductive electrodes in solar cells and interesting for optoelectronic and infrared-plasmonic applications. One of the new challenges that researchers and engineers are facing is merging optical and electrical control in a single device for developing next-generation photovoltaic, optoelectronic devices and energy-efficient solid-state lighting. In this work, the authors investigated the possible variations in the dielectric properties of aluminum-doped ZnO (AZO) upon gating by means of spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE). The authors investigated the electrical-bias-dependent optical response of thin AZO films fabricated by magnetron sputtering within a parallel-plane capacitor configuration. The authors address the possibility to control their optical and electric performances by applying bias, monitoring the effect of charge injection/depletion in the AZO layer by means of in operando SE versus applied gate voltage.
The layered van der Waals antiferromagnet MnBi2Te4 has been predicted to combine the band ordering of archetypical topological insulators such as Bi2Te3 with the magnetism of Mn, making this material a viable candidate for the realization of various magnetic topological states. We have systematically investigated the surface electronic structure of MnBi2Te4(0001) single crystals by use of spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy experiments. In line with theoretical predictions, the results reveal a surface state in the bulk band gap and they provide evidence for the influence of exchange interaction and spin-orbit coupling on the surface electronic structure.
The redox process of pretreated Co3O4 thin film coatings has been studied by ambient pressure soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The Co3O4 coatings were composed of nanoparticles of about 10 nm in size as prepared by pulsed laser deposition. The thin film coatings were pretreated in He or in H2 up to 150 °C prior to exposure to the reactive gases. The reactivity toward carbon monoxide and oxygen was monitored by near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy during gas exposures. The results indicate that the samples pretreated in He show reactivity only at high temperature, while the samples pretreated in H2 are reactive also at room temperature. X-ray photoemission spectroscopy measurements in ultra-high vacuum and NEXAFS simulations with the CTM4XAS code further specify the results.
Electronic correlation is believed to play an important role in exotic phenomena such as insulator-metal transition, colossal magnetoresistance, and high-temperature superconductivity in correlated electron systems. Recently, it has been shown that electronic correlation may also be responsible for the formation of unconventional plasmons. Herewith, using a combination of angle-dependent spectroscopic ellipsometry, angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy, and Hall measurements, all as a function of temperature supported by first-principles calculations, the existence of low-loss high-energy correlated plasmons accompanied by spectral weight transfer, a fingerprint of electronic correlation, in topological insulator (Bi0.8Sb0.2)2Se3 is revealed. Upon cooling, the density of free charge carriers in the surface states decreases whereas that in the bulk states increases, and the recently reported correlated plasmons are key to explaining this phenomenon. Our result shows the importance of electronic correlation in determining correlated plasmons and opens an alternative path in engineering plasmonic-based topologically insulating devices.
Magnetism in monolayer (ML) VSe2 has attracted broad interest in spintronics, while existing reports have not reached consensus. Using element-specific X-ray magnetic circular dichroism, a magnetic transition in ML VSe2 has been demonstrated at the contamination-free interface between Co and VSe2. Through interfacial hybridization with a Co atomic overlayer, a magnetic moment of about 0.4 μB per V atom in ML VSe2 is revealed, approaching values predicted by previous theoretical calculations. Promotion of the ferromagnetism in ML VSe2 is accompanied by its antiferromagnetic coupling to Co and a reduction in the spin moment of Co. In comparison to the absence of this interface-induced ferromagnetism at the Fe/ML MoSe2 interface, these findings at the Co/ML VSe2 interface provide clear proof that the ML VSe2, initially with magnetic disorder, is on the verge of magnetic transition.
We combine time-resolved pump-probe magneto-optical Kerr effect and photoelectron spectroscopy experiments supported by theoretical analysis to determine the relaxation dynamics of delocalized electrons in half-metallic ferromagnetic manganite La1−xSrxMnO3. We observe that the half-metallic character of La1−xSrxMnO3 determines the timescale of both the electronic phase transition and the quenching of magnetization, revealing a quantum isolation of the spin system in double-exchange ferromagnets extending up to hundreds of picoseconds. We demonstrate the use of time-resolved hard x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy as a unique tool to single out the evolution of strongly correlated electronic states across a second-order phase transition in a complex material.
Combining first‐principles calculations with synchrotron‐based X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy, the surface chemical reactivity of VSe2 single crystals toward oxygen, water, and air is assessed. It is found that the pristine, undefected surface is inert toward oxygen and water adsorption. The presence of Se defects drastically changes the surface reactivity. Specifically, water adsorption at room temperature is dissociative and mainly localized at Se vacancies. In contrast, surface oxidation is achieved only after long‐term air exposure (1 month). These results are crucial to assess the surface stability in ambient environment in the prospect of VSe2‐based applications.
A proper understanding on the charge mobility in organic materials is one of the key factors to realize highly functionalized organic semiconductor devices. So far, however, although a number of studies have proposed the carrier transport mechanism of rubrene single crystal to be band-like, there are disagreements between the results reported in these papers. Here, we show that the actual dispersion widths of the electronic bands formed by the highest occupied molecular orbital are much smaller than those reported in the literature, and that the disagreements originate from the diffraction effect of photoelectron and the vibrations of molecules. The present result indicates that the electronic bands would not be the main channel for hole mobility in case of rubrene single crystal and the necessity to consider a more complex picture like molecular vibrations mediated carrier transport. These findings open an avenue for a thorough insight on how to realize organic semiconductor devices with high carrier mobility.
Whenever one is interested in making high temperature superconductor-based devices, the goodness of the sample surface in terms of structural and electrical properties is a strong issue. In fact, it is well known that the surface of high Tc superconducting samples is not bulk-representative, due to air contamination and to the possible presence of oxygen vacancies. In addition, the quality of the surface layer results to be crucial in surface sensitive measurements as in X-ray photoelectron and Angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. Recently, some studies have been dedicated to the realization of devices based on electron-doped cuprates, bilayers and nanowires, showing the actual possibility to realize good quality junctions by using these cuprates. In this work, we report on the fabrication of thin films of the electron-doped Nd2−xCexCuO4±δ compound and analyze the surface natural barrier of as-grown films by means of point contact spectroscopy measurements. Suitable treatments of samples in an ozone rich atmosphere have been developed in order to improve the surface quality of the films. Auger electron spectroscopy has been used to monitor the effectiveness of these treatments.
Polar lacunar spinels, such as GaV4S8 and GaV4Se8, were proposed to host skyrmion phases under magnetic field. In this work, we put forward, as a candidate for Néel-type skyrmion lattice, the isostructural GaMo4S8, which is systematically studied via both first-principles calculations and Monte Carlo simulations of a model Hamiltonian. Electric polarization, driven by the Jahn-Teller distortion, is predicted to arise in GaMo4S8, showing a comparable size but an opposite sign with respect to that evaluated in V-based counterparts and explained in terms of different electron counting arguments and resulting distortions. Interestingly, a larger spin-orbit coupling of 4d orbitals with respect to 3d orbitals in vanadium spinels leads to stronger Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interactions, which are beneficial to stabilize a cycloidal spin texture, as well as smaller-sized skyrmions (radius<10nm). Furthermore, the possibly large exchange anisotropy of GaMo4S8 may lead to a ferroelectric-ferromagnetic ground state as an alternative to the ferroelectric-skyrmionic one, thus calling for further experimental verification.
Monolayer VSe2, featuring both charge density wave and magnetism phenomena, represents a unique van der Waals magnet in the family of metallic 2D transition‐metal dichalcogenides (2D‐TMDs). Herein, by means of in situ microscopy and spectroscopic techniques, including scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy, synchrotron X‐ray and angle‐resolved photoemission, and X‐ray absorption, direct spectroscopic signatures are established, that identify the metallic 1T‐phase and vanadium 3d1 electronic configuration in monolayer VSe2 grown on graphite by molecular‐beam epitaxy. Element‐specific X‐ray magnetic circular dichroism, complemented with magnetic susceptibility measurements, further reveals monolayer VSe2 as a frustrated magnet, with its spins exhibiting subtle correlations, albeit in the absence of a long‐range magnetic order down to 2 K and up to a 7 T magnetic field. This observation is attributed to the relative stability of the ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic ground states, arising from its atomic‐scale structural features, such as rotational disorders and edges. The results of this study extend the current understanding of metallic 2D‐TMDs in the search for exotic low‐dimensional quantum phenomena, and stimulate further theoretical and experimental studies on van der Waals monolayer magnets.
We report on the reproducible surface topological electron states in Bi2Se3 topological insulator thin films when epitaxially grown by Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) on (0 0 1)-oriented SrTiO3 (STO) perovskite substrates. Bi2Se3 has been reproducibly grown with single (0 0 1)-orientation and low surface roughness as controlled by ex-situ X-ray diffraction and in situ scanning tunnel microscopy and low-energy electron diffraction. Finally, in situ synchrotron radiation angle-resolved photo-emission spectroscopy measurements show a single Dirac cone and Dirac point at eV located in the center of the Brillouin zone likewise found from exfoliated single-crystals. These results demonstrate that the topological surface electron properties of PLD-grown Bi2Se3 thin films grown on (0 0 1)-oriented STO substrates open new perspectives for applications of multi-layered materials based on oxide perovskites.
Converse magnetoelectric coupling in artificial multiferroics is generally modeled through three possible mechanisms: charge transfer, strain mediated effects or ion migration. Here the role played by electrically controlled morphological modifications on the ferromagnetic response of a multiferroic heterostructure, specifically FexMn1−x ferromagnetic films on piezoferroelectric PMN‐PT  substrates, is discussed. The substrates present, in correspondence to electrical switching, fully reversible morphological changes at the surface, to which correspond reproducible modifications of the ferromagnetic response of the FexMn1−x films. Topographic analysis by atomic force microscopy shows the formation of surface cracks (up to 100 nm in height) upon application of a sufficiently high positive electric field (up to 6 kV cm−1). The cracks disappear after application of negative electric field of the same magnitude. Correspondingly, in operando X‐ray magnetic circular dichroic spectroscopy at Fe edge in FexMn1−x layers and micro‐MOKE measurements show local variations in the intensity of the dichroic signal and in the magnetic anisotropy as a function of the electrically driven morphological state. This morphologic parameter, rarely explored in literature, directly affects the ferromagnetic response of the system. Its proof of electrically reversible modification of the magnetic response adds a new possibility in the design of electrically controlled magnetic devices.
Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) nanocrystals (NCs) were produced via hot-injection from metal chloride precursors. A systematic investigation of the influence of synthesis conditions on composition, size and microstructure of CZTS NCs is presented. The results show that the solvent amount (oleylamine) is a key parameter in the synthesis of this quaternary chalcogenide: a low solvent content leads to CZTS NCs with a prominent kesterite phase with the desired composition for use as absorber material in thin film photovoltaic cells. It is also observed that lowering the injection temperature (250 °C) favours formation of CZTS NCs in the wurtzite phase. The effect of different high temperature thermal treatments on the grain growth is also shown: large crystals are obtained with annealing in inert atmosphere, whereas nanocrystalline films are obtained introducing sulphur vapour during the heat treatment. A correlation between the grain dimension and the carbonaceous residues in the final films is investigated. It is shown that the grain growth is hindered by organic residues, amount and nature of which depend on the heat treatment atmosphere. In fact, oleylamine is removed by a complex pyrolytic process, which is affected by the presence of sulphur vapour. The latter favours the stability of oleylamine residuals against its non-oxidative release.
Currently, there is a flurry of research interest on materials with an unconventional electronic structure, and we have already seen significant progress in their understanding and engineering towards real-life applications. The interest erupted with the discovery of graphene and topological insulators in the previous decade. The electrons in graphene simulate massless Dirac Fermions with a linearly dispersing Dirac cone in their band structure, while in topological insulators, the electronic bands wind non-trivially in momentum space giving rise to gapless surface states and bulk bandgap. Weyl semimetals in condensed matter systems are the latest addition to this growing family of topological materials. Weyl Fermions are known in the context of high energy physics since almost the beginning of quantum mechanics. They apparently violate charge conservation rules, displaying the 'chiral anomaly', with such remarkable properties recently theoretically predicted and experimentally verified to exist as low energy quasiparticle states in certain condensed matter systems. Not only are these new materials extremely important for our fundamental understanding of quantum phenomena, but also they exhibit completely different transport phenomena. For example, massless Fermions are susceptible to scattering from non-magnetic impurities. Dirac semimetals exhibit non-saturating extremely large magnetoresistance as a consequence of their robust electronic bands being protected by time reversal symmetry. These open up whole new possibilities for materials engineering and applications including quantum computing. In this review, we recapitulate some of the outstanding properties of WTe2, namely, its non-saturating titanic magnetoresistance due to perfect electron and hole carrier balance up to a very high magnetic field observed for the very first time. It also indicative of hosting Lorentz violating type-II Weyl Fermions in its bandstructure, again first predicted candidate material to host such a remarkable phase. We primarily focus on the findings of our ARPES, spin-ARPES, and time-resolved ARPES studies complemented by first-principles calculations.
The band inversions that generate the topologically non-trivial band gaps of topological insulators and the isolated Dirac touching points of three-dimensional Dirac semimetals generally arise from the crossings of electronic states derived from different orbital manifolds. Recently, the concept of single orbital-manifold band inversions occurring along high-symmetry lines has been demonstrated, stabilising multiple bulk and surface Dirac fermions. Here, we discuss the underlying ingredients necessary to achieve such phases, and discuss their existence within the family of transition metal dichalcogenides. We show how their three-dimensional band structures naturally produce only small k z projected band gaps, and demonstrate how these play a significant role in shaping the surface electronic structure of these materials. We demonstrate, through spin- and angle-resolved photoemission and density functional theory calculations, how the surface electronic structures of the group-X TMDs PtSe2 and PdTe2 are host to up to five distinct surface states, each with complex band dispersions and spin textures. Finally, we discuss how the origin of several recently-realised instances of topological phenomena in systems outside of the TMDs, including the iron-based superconductors, can be understood as a consequence of the same underlying mechanism driving k z -mediated band inversions in the TMDs.
Materials exhibiting nodal‐line fermions promise superb impact on technology for the prospect of dissipationless spintronic devices. Among nodal‐line semimetals, the ZrSiX (X = S, Se, Te) class is the most suitable candidate for such applications. However, the surface chemical reactivity of ZrSiS and ZrSiSe has not been explored yet. Here, by combining different surface‐science tools and density functional theory, it is demonstrated that the formation of ZrSiS and ZrSiSe surfaces by cleavage is accompanied by the washing up of the exotic topological bands, giving rise to the nodal line. Moreover, while the ZrSiS has a termination layer with both Zr and S atoms, in the ZrSiSe surface, reconstruction occurs with the appearance of Si surface atoms, which is particularly prone to oxidation. It is demonstrated that the chemical activity of ZrSiX compounds is mostly determined by the interaction of the Si layer with the ZrX sublayer. A suitable encapsulation for ZrSiX should not only preserve their surfaces from interaction with oxidative species, but also provide a saturation of dangling bonds with minimal distortion of the surface.
By performing density functional theory and Green's functions calculations, complemented by x-ray photoemission spectroscopy, we investigate the electronic structure of Fe/GeTe(111), a prototypical ferromagnetic/Rashba-ferroelectric interface. We reveal that such a system exhibits several intriguing properties resulting from the complex interplay of exchange interaction, electric polarization, and spin-orbit coupling. Despite a rather strong interfacial hybridization between Fe and GeTe bands, resulting in a complete suppression of the surface states of the latter, the bulk Rashba bands are hardly altered by the ferromagnetic overlayer. This could have a deep impact on spin-dependent phenomena observed at this interface, such as spin-to-charge interconversion, which are likely to involve bulk rather than surface Rashba states.
Probing the evolution of electronic, structural, and chemical properties of nanostructured materials under reaction conditions is a crucial issue to determine their structure-functionality relationships. A relevant example is represented by heterogeneous catalysts, whose properties change dramatically with respect to the environment. Much of effort has been made lately in designing new solutions and technologies, or modifying the existing ones for purpose of operando conditions analysis. The use of micro- or nanoreactors, is a second approach, where ultrathin membranes can efficiently separate the high-pressure volume from the (ultra)high vacuum of the characterization chamber. Very recently, microreactor cells have been developed to integrate the capabilities of ensemble-averaging synchrotron techniques with local probe ones, as TEM to analyze the same catalytic process with different instruments. Despite the great power of this method, the extremely small probing size of TEMs restricts the application of a combined approach to a limited set of micro-focused synchrotron techniques. We propose here the development of a novel multifunctional microreactor for operando low voltage Scanning TEM in a SEM compatible with a broad range of synchrotron techniques. We successfully designed a device compatible with Grazing Incident Small Angle X-ray Scattering (GISAXS), demonstrating the feasibility of our approach by studying the shape and size evolution of PVP-capped Pd nanocrystals under oxidation/reaction conditions.
By means of angle‐resolved photoemission spectroscopy measurements, the electronic band structure of the three‐dimensional PbBi4Te7 and PbBi6Te10 topological insulators is compared. The measurements clearly reveal coexisting topological and multiple Rashba‐like split states close to the Fermi level for both systems. The observed topological states derive from different surface terminations, as confirmed by scanning tunneling microscopy measurements, and are well‐described by the density functional theory simulations. Both the topological and the Rashba‐like states reveal a prevalent two‐dimensional character barely affected by air exposure. X‐ray and valence band photoemission measurements suggest Rashba‐like states stem from the van der Waals gap expansion, consistently with density functional theory calculations.
Topological insulators (TIs) with an inverted bulk band and a strong spin-orbit coupling exhibit gapless topological surface states (TSSs) protected by time-reversal symmetry. Helical spin textures driven by spin-momentum locking offer the opportunity to generate spin-polarized currents and therefore TIs are expected to be used for future spintronic applications. For practical applications TIs are urgently required that are operable at room temperature due to a wide bulk band gap as well as a distinct topological surface state that is robust to atmospheric exposure. Here we show two distinguishable TSSs originating from different terminations on PbBi4Te4S3 by using spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. We find that one TSS is persistently observed, while the other becomes invisible upon intentional oxygen exposure. The result signifies the presence of a protected TSS buried under the topmost surface. Our finding paves the way for realizing a topological spintronics device under atmospheric conditions.
In this paper, we present the first publicly available human-annotated dataset of images obtained by the Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). A total of roughly 22,000 SEM images at the nanoscale are classified into 10 categories to form 4 labeled training sets, suited for image recognition tasks. The selected categories span the range of 0D objects such as particles, 1D nanowires and fibres, 2D films and coated surfaces as well as patterned surfaces, and 3D structures such as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices and pillars. Additional categories such as tips and biological are also included to expand the spectrum of possible images. A preliminary degree of hierarchy is introduced, by creating a subtree structure for the categories and populating them with the available images, wherever possible.
We report on the influence of spin-orbit coupling (SOC) in Fe-based superconductors via application of circularly polarized spin and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. We combine this technique in representative members of both the Fe-pnictides (LiFeAs) and Fe-chalcogenides (FeSe) with tight-binding calculations to establish an ubiquitous modification of the electronic structure in these materials imbued by SOC. At low energy, the influence of SOC is found to be concentrated on the hole pockets, where the largest superconducting gaps are typically found. This effect varies substantively with the
kzdispersion, and in FeSe we find SOC to be comparable to the energy scale of orbital order. These results contest descriptions of superconductivity in these materials in terms of pure spin-singlet eigenstates, raising questions regarding the possible pairing mechanisms and role of SOC therein.
Spintronics exploits the magnetoresistance effects to store or sense the magnetic information. Since the magnetoresistance strictly depends on the magnetic anisotropy of a system, it is fundamental to set a defined anisotropy to the system. Here, we investigate half-metallic La0.67Sr0.33MnO3 thin films by means of vectorial Magneto-Optical Kerr Magnetometry and found that they exhibit pure biaxial magnetic anisotropy at room temperature if grown onto a MgO (001) substrate with a thin SrTiO3 buffer. In this way, we can avoid unwanted uniaxial magnetic anisotropy contributions that may be detrimental for specific applications. The detailed study of the angular evolution of the magnetization reversal pathways and critical fields (coercivity and switching) discloses the origin of the magnetic anisotropy, which is magnetocrystalline in nature and shows fourfold symmetry at any temperature.
The delicate interplay of electronic charge, spin, and orbital degrees of freedom is in the heart of many novel phenomena across the transition metal oxide family. Here, by combining high-resolution angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and first principles calculations (with and without spin-orbit coupling), the electronic structure of the rutile binary iridate,
IrO2, is investigated. The detailed study of electronic bands measured on a high-quality single crystalline sample and use of a wide range of photon energy provide a huge improvement over the previous studies. The excellent agreement between theory and experimental results shows that the single-particle DFT description of IrO2 band structure is adequate, without the need of invoking any treatment of correlation effects. Although many observed features point to a 3D nature of the electronic structure, clear surface effects are revealed. The discussion of the orbital character of the relevant bands crossing the Fermi level sheds light on spin-orbit-coupling-driven phenomena in this material, unveiling a spin-orbit-induced avoided crossing, a property likely to play a key role in its large spin Hall effect.
We present a new experimental setup for performing X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) in the soft X-ray range at ambient pressure. The ambient pressure XAS setup is fully compatible with the ultra high vacuum environment of a synchrotron radiation spectroscopy beamline end station by means of ultrathin Si3N4 membranes acting as windows for the X-ray beam and seal of the atmospheric sample environment. The XAS detection is performed in total electron yield (TEY) mode by probing the drain current from the sample with a picoammeter. The high signal/noise ratio achievable in the TEY mode, combined with a continuous scanning of the X-ray energies, makes it possible recording XAS spectra in a few seconds. The first results show the performance of this setup to record fast XAS spectra from sample surfaces exposed at atmospheric pressure, even in the case of highly insulating samples. The use of a permanent magnet inside the reaction cell enables the measurement of X-ray magnetic circular dichroism at ambient pressure.
In order to enable the use of the prototypical 2D‐layered MoS2 for spintronics, its integration with ferromagnetic layers is mandatory. By employing interface‐sensitive 57Fe conversion electron Mössbauer spectroscopy (CEMS), hard X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HAXPES), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the chemical, structural, and magnetic properties of the Fe/2D‐MoS2 interface are investigated. CEMS shows that out of the first 1 nm of Fe in direct contact with 2D‐MoS2, about half of the Fe atoms keeps the un‐perturbed Fe local environment, partly in regions where the original 2D‐layered structure of MoS2 is preserved as shown by TEM. The remaining reacting Fe atoms exclusively bond with Mo, with the majority of them being characterized by a ferromagnetic environment and the rest coordinating in a paramagnetic Fe‐Mo configuration. The preferential Fe bonding with Mo is corroborated by HAXPES analysis. The results provide detailed insight into the link between the bonding configuration and the interfacial magnetism at the Fe/2D‐MoS2 heterojunction.
We present a study on the growth and characterization of high-quality single-layer MoS2 with a single orientation, i.e. without the presence of mirror domains. This single orientation of the MoS2 layer is established by means of x-ray photoelectron diffraction. The high quality is evidenced by combining scanning tunneling microscopy with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements. Spin- and angle-resolved photoemission experiments performed on the sample revealed complete spin-polarization of the valence band states near the K and -K points of the Brillouin zone. These findings open up the possibility to exploit the spin and valley degrees of freedom for encoding and processing information in devices that are based on epitaxially grown materials.
The challenge of synthesizing graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) with atomic precision is currently being pursued along a one-way road, based on the synthesis of adequate molecular precursors that react in predefined ways through self-assembly processes. The synthetic options for GNR generation would multiply by adding a new direction to this readily successful approach, especially if both of them can be combined. We show here how GNR synthesis can be guided by an adequately nanotemplated substrate instead of by the traditionally designed reactants. The structural atomic precision, unachievable to date through top-down methods, is preserved by the self-assembly process. This new strategy’s proof-of-concept compares experiments using 4,4′′-dibromo-para-terphenyl as a molecular precursor on flat Au(111) and stepped Au(322) substrates. As opposed to the former, the periodic steps of the latter drive the selective synthesis of 6 atom-wide armchair GNRs, whose electronic properties have been further characterized in detail by scanning tunneling spectroscopy, angle resolved photoemission, and density functional theory calculations.
The success of black phosphorus in fast electronic and photonic devices is hindered by its rapid degradation in the presence of oxygen. Orthorhombic tin selenide is a representative of group IV-VI binary compounds that are robust and isoelectronic and share the same structure with black phosphorus. We measure the band structure of SnSe and find highly anisotropic valence bands that form several valleys having fast dispersion within the layers and negligible dispersion across. This is exactly the band structure desired for efficient thermoelectric generation where SnSe has shown great promise.
We study the low-energy surface electronic structure of the transition-metal dichalcogenide superconductor
PdTe2 by spin- and angle-resolved photoemission, scanning tunneling microscopy, and density-functional theory-based supercell calculations. Comparing PdTe2 with its sister compound PtSe2, we demonstrate how enhanced interlayer hopping in the Te-based material drives a band inversion within the antibonding p-orbital manifold well above the Fermi level. We show how this mediates spin-polarized topological surface states which form rich multivalley Fermi surfaces with complex spin textures. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy reveals type-II superconductivity at the surface, and moreover shows no evidence for an unconventional component of its superconducting order parameter, despite the presence of topological surface states.
Controlling magnetism by using electric fields is a goal of research towards novel spintronic devices and future nanoelectronics. For this reason, multiferroic heterostructures attract much interest. Here we provide experimental evidence, and supporting density functional theory analysis, of a transition in La0.65Sr0.35MnO3 thin film to a stable ferromagnetic phase, that is induced by the structural and strain properties of the ferroelectric BaTiO3 (BTO) substrate, which can be modified by applying external electric fields. X-ray magnetic circular dichroism measurements on Mn L edges with a synchrotron radiation show, in fact, two magnetic transitions as a function of temperature that correspond to structural changes of the BTO substrate. We also show that ferromagnetism, absent in the pristine condition at room temperature, can be established by electrically switching the BTO ferroelectric domains in the out-of-plane direction. The present results confirm that electrically induced strain can be exploited to control magnetism in multiferroic oxide heterostructures.
The superconducting properties of Sr1–xLaxCuO2 thin films are strongly affected by sample preparation procedures, including the annealing step, which are not always well controlled. We have studied the evolution of Cu L2,3 and O K edge x-ray absorption spectra (XAS) of Sr1–xLaxCuO2 thin films as a function of reducing annealing, both qualitatively and quantitatively. By using linearly polarized radiation, we are able to identify the signatures of the presence of apical oxygen in the as-grown sample and its gradual removal as a function of duration of 350 °C Ar annealing performed on the same sample. Even though the as-grown sample appears to be hole doped, we cannot identify the signature of the Zhang-Rice singlet in the O K XAS, and it is extremely unlikely that the interstitial excess oxygen can give rise to a superconducting or even a metallic ground state. XAS and x-ray linear dichroism analyses are, therefore, shown to be valuable tools to improving the control over the annealing process of electron doped superconductors.
Interfaces play a crucial role in the study of novel phenomena emerging at heterostructures comprising metals and functional oxides. For this reason, attention should be paid to the interface chemistry, which can favor the interdiffusion of atomic species and, under certain conditions, lead to the formation of radically different compounds with respect to the original constituents. In this work, we consider Cr/
BaTiO3 heterostructures grown on SrTiO3 (100) substrates. Chromium thin films (1–2 nm thickness) are deposited by molecular beam epitaxy on the
BaTiO3 layer, and subsequently annealed in vacuum at temperatures ranging from 473 to 773 K. A disordered metallic layer is detected for annealing temperatures up to 573 K, whereas, at higher temperatures, we observe a progressive oxidation of chromium, which we relate to the thermally activated migration of oxygen from the substrate. The chromium oxidation state is +3 and the film shows a defective rocksalt structure, which grows lattice matched on the underlying BaTiO3 layer. One out of every three atoms of chromium is missing, producing an uncommon tetragonal phase with Cr2O3 stoichiometry. Despite the structural difference with respect to the ordinary corundum α-Cr2O3 phase, we demonstrate both experimentally and theoretically that the electronic properties of the two phases are, to a large extent, equivalent.
We investigate the solvatochromic effect of a Fe-based spin-crossover (SCO) compound via ambient pressure soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (AP-XAS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). AP-XAS provides the direct evidence of the spin configuration for the Fe(II) 3d states of the SCO material upon in situ exposure to specific gas or vapor mixtures; concurrent changes in nanoscale topography and mechanical characteristics are revealed via AFM imaging and AFM-based force spectroscopy, respectively. We find that exposing the SCO material to gaseous helium promotes an effective decrease of the transition temperature of its surface layers, while the exposure to methanol vapor causes opposite surfacial and bulk solvatochromic effects. Surfacial solvatochromism is accompanied by a dramatic reduction of the surface layers stiffness. We propose a rationalization of the observed effects based on interfacial dehydration and solvation phenomena.
PtTe2 is a novel transition-metal dichalcogenide hosting type-II Dirac fermions that displays application capabilities in optoelectronics and hydrogen evolution reaction. Here it is shown, by combining surface science experiments and density functional theory, that the pristine surface of PtTe2 is chemically inert toward the most common ambient gases (oxygen and water) and even in air. It is demonstrated that the creation of Te vacancies leads to the appearance of tellurium-oxide phases upon exposing defected PtTe2 surfaces to oxygen or ambient atmosphere, which is detrimental for the ambient stability of uncapped PtTe2-based devices. On the contrary, in PtTe2 surfaces modified by the joint presence of Te vacancies and substitutional carbon atoms, the stable adsorption of hydroxyl groups is observed, an essential step for water splitting and the water–gas shift reaction. These results thus pave the way toward the exploitation of this class of Dirac materials in catalysis.
Carbon nanomaterials exhibit extraordinary mechanical and electronic properties desirable for future technologies. Beyond the popular sp2‐scaffolds, there is growing interest in their graphdiyne‐related counterparts incorporating both sp2 and sp bonding in a regular scheme. Herein, we introduce carbonitrile‐functionalized graphdiyne nanowires, as a novel conjugated, one‐dimensional (1D) carbon nanomaterial systematically combining the virtues of covalent coupling and supramolecular concepts that are fabricated by on‐surface synthesis. Specifically, a terphenylene backbone is extended with reactive terminal alkyne and polar carbonitrile (CN) moieties providing the required functionalities. It is demonstrated that the CN functionalization enables highly selective alkyne homocoupling forming polymer strands and gives rise to mutual lateral attraction entailing room‐temperature stable double‐stranded assemblies. By exploiting the templating effect of the vicinal Ag(455) surface, 40 nm long semiconducting nanowires are obtained and the first experimental assessment of their electronic band structure is achieved by angle‐resolved photoemission spectroscopy indicating an effective mass below 0.1m0 for the top of the highest occupied band. Via molecular manipulation it is showcased that the novel oligomer exhibits extreme mechanical flexibility and opens unexplored ways of information encoding in clearly distinguishable CN‐phenyl trans–cis species. Thus, conformational data storage with density of 0.36 bit nm−2 and temperature stability beyond 150 K comes in reach.
The electric and nonvolatile control of the spin texture in semiconductors would represent a fundamental step toward novel electronic devices combining memory and computing functionalities. Recently, GeTe has been theoretically proposed as the father compound of a new class of materials, namely ferroelectric Rashba semiconductors. They display bulk bands with giant Rashba-like splitting due to the inversion symmetry breaking arising from the ferroelectric polarization, thus allowing for the ferroelectric control of the spin. Here, we provide the experimental demonstration of the correlation between ferroelectricity and spin texture. A surface-engineering strategy is used to set two opposite predefined uniform ferroelectric polarizations, inward and outward, as monitored by piezoresponse force microscopy. Spin and angular resolved photoemission experiments show that these GeTe(111) surfaces display opposite sense of circulation of spin in bulk Rashba bands. Furthermore, we demonstrate the crafting of nonvolatile ferroelectric patterns in GeTe films at the nanoscale by using the conductive tip of an atomic force microscope. Based on the intimate link between ferroelectric polarization and spin in GeTe, ferroelectric patterning paves the way to the investigation of devices with engineered spin configurations.
The spin-spin correlations in hollow (H) and full (F) maghemite nanoparticles (NPs) have been studied by X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD). An unexpected XMCD signal was detected and analyzed under the application of a small field (μ0H = 160 Oe) and at remanence for both F and H NPs. Clear differences in the magnitude and in the lineshape of the XMCD spectra between F and H NPs emerged. By comparing XMCD measurements performed with a variable degree of surface sensitivity, we were able to address the specific role played by the surface spins in the magnetism of the NPs.
Here we report a giant, completely reversible magneto-electric coupling of 100 nm polycrystalline Co layer in contact with ZnO nanorods. When the sample is under an applied bias of ± 2 V, the Co magnetic coercivity is reduced by a factor 5 from the un-poled case, with additionally a reduction of total magnetic moment in Co. Taking into account the chemical properties of ZnO nanorods measured by x-rays absorption near edge spectroscopy under bias, we conclude that these macroscopic effects on the magnetic response of the Co layer are due to the microstructure and the strong strain-driven magneto-electric coupling induced by the ZnO nanorods, whose nanostructuration maximizes the piezoelectric response under bias.
MoTe2 has recently been shown to realize in its low-temperature phase the type-II Weyl semimetal (WSM). We investigated by time- and angle- resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (tr-ARPES) the possible influence of the Weyl points on the electron dynamics above the Fermi level EF, by comparing the ultrafast response of MoTe2 in the trivial and topological phases. In the low-temperature WSM phase, we report an enhanced relaxation rate of electrons optically excited to the conduction band, which we interpret as a fingerprint of the local gap closure when Weyl points form. By contrast, we find that the electron dynamics of the related compound WTe2 is slower and temperature independent, consistent with a topologically trivial nature of this material. Our results shows that tr-ARPES is sensitive to the small modifications of the unoccupied band structure accompanying the structural and topological phase transition of MoTe2.
Transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are renowned for their rich and varied bulk properties, while their single-layer variants have become one of the most prominent examples of two-dimensional materials beyond graphene. Their disparate ground states largely depend on transition metal d-electron-derived electronic states, on which the vast majority of attention has been concentrated to date. Here, we focus on the chalcogen-derived states. From density-functional theory calculations together with spin- and angle-resolved photoemission, we find that these generically host a co-existence of type-I and type-II three-dimensional bulk Dirac fermions as well as ladders of topological surface states and surface resonances. We demonstrate how these naturally arise within a single p-orbital manifold as a general consequence of a trigonal crystal field, and as such can be expected across a large number of compounds. Already, we demonstrate their existence in six separate TMDs, opening routes to tune, and ultimately exploit, their topological physics.
Interfaces between organic semiconductors and ferromagnetic metals offer intriguing opportunities in the rapidly developing field of organic spintronics. Understanding and controlling the spin-polarized electronic states at the interface is the key toward a reliable exploitation of this kind of systems. Here we propose an approach consisting in the insertion of a two-dimensional magnetic oxide layer at the interface with the aim of both increasing the reproducibility of the interface preparation and offering a way for a further fine control over the electronic and magnetic properties. We have inserted a two-dimensional Cr4O5 layer at the C60/Fe(001) interface and have characterized the corresponding morphological, electronic, and magnetic properties. Scanning tunneling microscopy and electron diffraction show that the film grows well-ordered both in the monolayer and multilayer regimes. Electron spectroscopies confirm that hybridization of the electronic states occurs at the interface. Finally, magnetic dichroism in X-ray absorption shows an unprecedented spin-polarization of the hybridized fullerene states. The latter result is discussed also in light of an ab initio theoretical analysis.
Extremely large magnetoresistance (XMR), observed in transition-metal dichalcogenides,
WTe2, has attracted recently a great deal of research interest as it shows no sign of saturation up to a magnetic field as high as 60 T, in addition to the presence of type-II Weyl fermions. Currently, there is a great deal of discussion on the role of band structure changes in the temperature-dependent XMR in this compound. In this contribution, we study the band structure of WTe2 using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and first-principles calculations to demonstrate that the temperature-dependent band structure has no substantial effect on the temperature-dependent XMR, as our measurements do not show band structure changes upon increasing the sample temperature between 20 and 130 K. We further observe an electronlike surface state, dispersing in such a way that it connects the top of bulk holelike band to the bottom of bulk electronlike band. Interestingly, similarly to bulk states, the surface state is also mostly intact with the sample temperature. Our results provide valuable information in shaping the mechanism of temperature-dependent XMR in WTe2.
In this paper we applied transfer learning techniques for image recognition, automatic categorization, and labeling of nanoscience images obtained by scanning electron microscope (SEM). Roughly 20,000 SEM images were manually classified into 10 categories to form a labeled training set, which can be used as a reference set for future applications of deep learning enhanced algorithms in the nanoscience domain. The categories chosen spanned the range of 0-Dimensional (0D) objects such as particles, 1D nanowires and fibres, 2D films and coated surfaces, and 3D patterned surfaces such as pillars. The training set was used to retrain on the SEM dataset and to compare many convolutional neural network models (Inception-v3, Inception-v4, ResNet). We obtained compatible results by performing a feature extraction of the different models on the same dataset. We performed additional analysis of the classifier on a second test set to further investigate the results both on particular cases and from a statistical point of view. Our algorithm was able to successfully classify around 90% of a test dataset consisting of SEM images, while reduced accuracy was found in the case of images at the boundary between two categories or containing elements of multiple categories. In these cases, the image classification did not identify a predominant category with a high score. We used the statistical outcomes from testing to deploy a semi-automatic workflow able to classify and label images generated by the SEM. Finally, a separate training was performed to determine the volume fraction of coherently aligned nanowires in SEM images. The results were compared with what was obtained using the Local Gradient Orientation method. This example demonstrates the versatility and the potential of transfer learning to address specific tasks of interest in nanoscience applications.
The conduction and optoelectronic properties of transparent conductive oxides can be largely modified by intentional inclusion of dopants over a very large range of concentrations. However, the simultaneous presence of structural defects results in an unpredictable complexity that prevents a clear identification of chemical and structural properties of the final samples. By exploiting the unique chemical sensitivity of Hard X-ray Photoelectron Spectra and Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure in combination with Density Functional Theory, we determine the contribution to the spectroscopic response of defects in Al-doped ZnO films. Satellite peaks in O1s and modifications at the O K-edge allow the determination of the presence of H embedded in ZnO and the very low concentration of Zn vacancies and O interstitials in undoped ZnO. Contributions coming from substitutional and (above the solubility limit) interstitial Al atoms have been clearly identified and have been related to changes in the oxide stoichiometry and increased oxygen coordination, together with small lattice distortions. In this way defects and doping in oxide films can be controlled, in order to tune their properties and improve their performances.
In this work, we studied the influence of the buffer layer composition on the IrMn thickness threshold for the onset of exchange bias in IrMn/Co bilayers. By means of magnetometry, x-ray absorption and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, we investigated the magnetic and chemical properties of the stacks. We demonstrated a higher diffusion of Mn through the Co layer in the case of a Cu buffer layer. This is consistent with the observation of larger IrMn thickness threshold for the onset of exchange bias.
In this work we investigated in detail the effects of nitric acid on the surface chemistry of two carbons, activated by steam and by phosphoric acid, meant to identify the nature and the concentration of the oxidized surface species. To this aim, the oxidized carbons were characterized by means of a large number of complementary techniques, including micro-Raman spectroscopy, N2 physisorption, Boehm titration method, 13C solid state nuclear magnetic resonance, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance infrared and inelastic neutron scattering spectroscopy. Carboxylic and carboxylate groups are mainly formed, the latter stabilized by the extended conjugation of the π electrons and being more abundant on small and irregular graphitic platelets. We demonstrated that the presence of oxygen-containing groups acts against the palladium dispersion and causes the appearance of an appreciable induction time in hydrogenation reactions. The carbon with more oxygenated surface species (and in particular more carboxylate groups) must be chosen in the hydrogenation of polar substrates, while it is detrimental to the hydrogenation of nonpolar substrates.
By combining bulk sensitive soft-x-ray angular-resolved photoemission spectroscopy and first-principles calculations we explored the bulk electron states of WTe2, a candidate type-II Weyl semimetal featuring a large nonsaturating magnetoresistance. Despite the layered geometry suggesting a two-dimensional electronic structure, we directly observe a three-dimensional electronic dispersion. We report a band dispersion in the reciprocal direction perpendicular to the layers, implying that electrons can also travel coherently when crossing from one layer to the other. The measured Fermi surface is characterized by two well-separated electron and hole pockets at either side of the Γ point, differently from previous more surface sensitive angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy experiments that additionally found a pronounced quasiparticle weight at the zone center. Moreover, we observe a significant sensitivity of the bulk electronic structure of WTe2 around the Fermi level to electronic correlations and renormalizations due to self-energy effects, previously neglected in first-principles descriptions.
Complete photoemission experiments, enabling measurement of the full quantum set of the photoelectron final state, are in high demand for studying materials and nanostructures whose properties are determined by strong electron and spin correlations. Here the implementation of the new spin polarimeter VESPA (Very Efficient Spin Polarization Analysis) at the APE-NFFA beamline at Elettra is reported, which is based on the exchange coupling between the photoelectron spin and a ferromagnetic surface in a reflectometry setup. The system was designed to be integrated with a dedicated Scienta-Omicron DA30 electron energy analyzer allowing for two simultaneous reflectometry measurements, along perpendicular axes, that, after magnetization switching of the two targets, allow the three-dimensional vectorial reconstruction of the spin polarization to be performed while operating the DA30 in high-resolution mode. VESPA represents the very first installation for spin-resolved ARPES (SPARPES) at the Elettra synchrotron in Trieste, and is being heavily exploited by SPARPES users since autumn 2015.
We report the study of anatase TiO2(001)-oriented thin films grown by pulsed laser deposition on LaAlO3(001). A combination of in situ and ex situ methods has been used to address both the origin of the Ti3+-localized states and their relationship with the structural and electronic properties on the surface and the subsurface. Localized in-gap states are analyzed using resonant X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and are related to the Ti3+ electronic configuration, homogeneously distributed over the entire film thickness. We find that an increase in the oxygen pressure corresponds to an increase in Ti3+ only in a well-defined range of deposition pressure; outside this range, Ti3+ and the strength of the in-gap states are reduced.
Transition-metal dichalcogenides (WTe2 and MoTe2) have recently drawn much attention, because of the
nonsaturating extremely large magnetoresistance (XMR) observed in these compounds in addition to the
predictions of likely type-II Weyl semimetals. Contrary to the topological insulators or Dirac semimetals where XMR is linearly dependent on the field, in WTe2 and MoTe2 the XMR is nonlinearly dependent on the field, suggesting an entirely different mechanism. Electron-hole compensation has been proposed as a mechanism of this nonsaturating XMR in WTe2, while it is yet to be clear in the case of MoTe2 which has an identical crystal structure of WTe2 at low temperatures. In this Rapid Communication, we report low-energy electronic structure and Fermi surface topology of MoTe2 using angle-resolved photoemission spectrometry (ARPES) technique and first-principles calculations, and compare them with that of WTe2 to understand the mechanism of XMR. Our measurements demonstrate that MoTe2 is an uncompensated semimetal, contrary to WTe2 in which compensated electron-hole pockets have been identified, ruling out the applicability of charge compensation theory for the nonsaturating XMR in MoTe2. In this context, we also discuss the applicability of other existing conjectures on the XMR of these compounds.
We report on epitaxial growth of Bi2Se3topological insulator thin films by Pulsed Laser Deposition(PLD). X-ray diffraction investigation confirms that Bi2Se3with a single (001)-orientation can beobtained on several substrates in a narrow (i.e., 20°C) range of deposition temperatures and at highdeposition pressure (i.e., 0.1 mbar). However, only films grown on (001)-Al2O3substrates show analmost-unique in-plane orientation.In-situspin-resolved angular resolved photoemission spectros-copy experiments, performed at the NFFA-APE facility of IOM-CNR and Elettra (Trieste), show asingle Dirac cone with the Dirac point atEB0:38 eV located in the center of the Brillouin zoneand the spin polarization of the topological surface states. These results demonstrate that the topolog-ical surface state can be obtained in PLD-grown Bi2Se3thin films.
The role of trivalent rare-earth dopants on the cerium oxidation state has been systematically studied by in situ photoemission spectroscopy with synchrotron radiation for 10 mol % rare-earth doped epitaxial ceria films. It was found that dopant rare-earths with smaller ionic radius foster the formation of Ce3+ by releasing the stress strength induced by the cation substitution. With a decrease of the dopant ionic radius from La3+ to Yb3+, the out-of-plane axis parameter of the crystal lattice decreases without introducing macroscopic defects. The high crystal quality of our films allowed us to comparatively study both the ionic conductivity and surface reactivity ruling out the influence of structural defects. The measured increase in the activation energy of films and their enhanced surface reactivity can be explained in terms of the dopant ionic radius effects on the Ce4+ → Ce3+ reduction as a result of lattice relaxation. Such findings open new perspectives in designing ceria-based materials with tailored properties by choosing suitable cation substitution.
The prediction of Weyl fermions in the low-temperature noncentrosymmetric
1T′ phase of MoTe2 still awaits clear experimental confirmation. Here, we report angle-resolved photoemission (ARPES) data and ab initio calculations that reveal a surface state arc dispersing between the valence and the conduction band, as expected for a Weyl semimetal. However, we find that the arc survives in the high-temperature centrosymmetric 1T'' phase. Therefore, a surface Fermi arc is not an unambiguous fingerprint of a topologically nontrivial phase. We have also investigated the surface state spin texture of the
1T′ phase by spin-resolved ARPES, and identified additional topologically trivial spin-split states within the projected band gap at higher binding energies.
Topological Weyl semimetal (TWS), a new state of quantum matter, has sparked enormous research interest recently. Possessing unique Weyl fermions in the bulk and Fermi arcs on the surface, TWSs offer a rare platform for realizing many exotic physical phenomena. TWSs can be classified into type-I that respect Lorentz symmetry and type-II that do not. Here, we directly visualize the electronic structure of MoTe2, a recently proposed type-II TWS. Using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES), we unravel the unique surface Fermi arcs, in good agreement with our ab initio calculations that have nontrivial topological nature. Our work not only leads to new understandings of the unusual properties discovered in this family of compounds, but also allows for the further exploration of exotic properties and practical applications of type-II TWSs, as well as the interplay between superconductivity (MoTe2 was discovered to be superconducting recently) and their topological order.
In this work the experimental uncertainties concerning electron spin polarization (SP) under various realistic measurement conditions are theoretically derived. The accuracy of the evaluation of the SP of the photoelectron current is analysed as a function of the detector parameters and specifications, as well as of the characteristics of the photoexcitation sources. In particular, the different behaviour of single counter or twin counter detectors when the intensity fluctuations of the source are considered have been addressed, leading to a new definition of the SP detector performance. The widely used parameter called the figure of merit is shown to be inadequate for describing the efficiency of SP polarimeters, especially when they are operated with time-structured excitation sources such as free-electron lasers. Numerical simulations have been performed and yield strong implications in the choice of the detecting instruments in spin-polarization experiments, that are constrained in a limited measurement time. Our results are therefore applied to the characteristics of a wide set of state-of-the-art spectroscopy facilities all over the world, and an efficiency diagram for SP experiments is derived. These results also define new mathematical instruments for handling the correct statistics of SP measurements in the presence of source intensity fluctuations.
The recent discovery of hidden spin polarization emerging in bulk electronic states of specific nonmagnetic crystals is a fascinating phenomenon, though hardly explored yet. Here, we study from a theoretical perspective nonmagnetic
BaNiS2, recently suggested to exhibit a giant Rashba-like spin-orbit splitting of the bulk bands, despite the absence of heavy elements. We employ density functional theory and Green's functions calculations to reveal the exact spin textures of both bulk and surface. We predict unambiguous signatures of spin-polarized electronic states at the surface, which reflect the bulk Rashba splitting and which could be experimentally measured with sufficient resolution: this would constitute a clear report of a bulk-Rashba-induced spin splitting at the surface of centrosymmetric crystals.
PtBi2 with a layered hexagonal crystal structure was recently reported to exhibit an unconventional large linear magnetoresistance, while the mechanism involved is still elusive. Using high-resolution angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we present a systematic study on its bulk and surface electronic structure. Through careful comparison with first principle calculations, our experiment distinguishes the low-lying bulk bands from entangled surface states, allowing the estimation of the real composition of samples. We find significant electron doping in PtBi2, implying a substantial Bi-deficiency-induced disorder therein. Intriguingly, we discover a Dirac-cone-like surface state on the boundary of the Brillouin zone, which is identified as an accidental Dirac band without topological protection. Our findings exclude linear band dispersion in the quantum limit as the cause of the unconventional large linear magnetoresistance but give support to the classical disorder model from the perspective of the electronic structure.
The complex electronic properties of
ZrTe5 have recently stimulated in-depth investigations that assigned this material to either a topological insulator or a 3D Dirac semimetal phase. Here we report a comprehensive experimental and theoretical study of both electronic and structural properties of
ZrTe5, revealing that the bulk material is a strong topological insulator (STI). By means of angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, we identify at the top of the valence band both a surface and a bulk state. The dispersion of these bands is well captured by ab initio calculations for the STI case, for the specific interlayer distance measured in our x-ray diffraction study. Furthermore, these findings are supported by scanning tunneling spectroscopy revealing the metallic character of the sample surface, thus confirming the strong topological nature of ZrTe5.
The electronic structure of the chiral helimagnet
Cr1/3NbS2 has been studied with core level and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES). Intercalated Cr atoms are found to be effective in donating electrons to the NbS2 layers but also cause significant modifications of the electronic structure of the host NbS2 material. In particular, the data provide evidence that a description of the electronic structure of Cr1/3NbS2 on the basis of a simple rigid band picture is untenable. The data also reveal substantial inconsistencies with the predictions of standard density functional theory. The relevance of these results to the attainment of a correct description of the electronic structure of chiral helimagnets, magnetic thin films/multilayers, and transition metal dichalcogenides intercalated with 3d magnetic elements is discussed.
Samaria-doped ceria (SDC) thin films are particularly important for energy and electronic applications such as microsolid oxide fuel cells, electrolyzers, sensors, and memristors. In this paper, we report a comparative study investigating ionic conductivity and surface reactions for well-grown epitaxial SDC films varying the samaria doping concentration. With increasing doping above 20 mol % of samaria, an enhancement in the defect association is observed by Raman spectroscopy. The role of such associated defects on the films̀ oxygen ion transport and exchange is investigated by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and electrochemical strain microscopy (ESM). The measurements reveal that the ionic transport has a sharp maximum in ionic conductivity and drops in its activation energy down to 0.6 eV for 20 mol % doping. Increasing the doping concentration further up to 40 mol %, it raises the activation energy substantially by a factor of 2. We ascribe the sluggish transport kinetics to the “bulk” ionic-near ordering in case of the heavily doped epitaxial films. Analysis of the ESM first-order reversal curve measurements indicates that these associated defects may have a beneficial role by lowering the activation of the oxygen exchange “surface” reaction for heavily doped 40 mol % of samaria. In a model experiment, through a solid solution series of samaria doped ceria epitaxial films, we reveal that the occurrence of associated defects in the bulk affects the surface charging state of the SDC films to increase the exchange rates. The implication of these findings is the design of coatings with tuned oxygen surface exchange by controlling the bulk associated clusters for future electrocatalytic applications.
Topological insulators are a promising class of materials for applications in the field of spintronics. New perspectives in this field can arise from interfacing metal–organic molecules with the topological insulator spin-momentum locked surface states, which can be perturbed enhancing or suppressing spintronics-relevant properties such as spin coherence. Here we show results from an angle-resolved photemission spectroscopy (ARPES) and scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) study of the prototypical cobalt phthalocyanine (CoPc)/Bi2Se3 interface. We demonstrate that that the hybrid interface can act on the topological protection of the surface and bury the Dirac cone below the first quintuple layer.
ULTRASPIN is an apparatus devoted to the measurement of the spin polarization (SP) of electrons ejected from solid surfaces in a UHV environment. It is designed to exploit ultrafast light sources (free electron laser or laser high harmonic generation) and to perform (photo)electron spin analysis by an arrangement of Mott scattering polarimeters that measure the full SP vector. The system consists of two interconnected UHV vessels: one for surface science sample cleaning treatments, e-beam deposition of ultrathin films, and low energy electron diffraction/AES characterization. The sample environment in the polarimeter allows for cryogenic cooling and in-operando application of electric and magnetic fields. The photoelectrons are collected by an electrostatic accelerator and transport lens that form a periaxial beam that is subsequently directed by a Y-shaped electrostatic deflector to either one of the two orthogonal Mott polarimeters. The apparatus has been designed to operate in the extreme conditions of ultraintense single-X-ray pulses as originated by free electron lasers (up to 1 kHz), but it allows also for the single electron counting mode suitable when using statistical sources such as synchrotron radiation, cw-laser, or e-gun beams (up to 150 kcps).
The behaviour of electrons and holes in a crystal lattice is a fundamental quantum phenomenon, accounting for a rich variety of material properties. Boosted by the remarkable electronic and physical properties of two-dimensional materials such as graphene and topological insulators, transition metal dichalcogenides have recently received renewed attention. In this context, the anomalous bulk properties of semimetallic WTe2 have attracted considerable interest. Here we report angle- and spin-resolved photoemission spectroscopy of WTe2 single crystals, through which we disentangle the role of W and Te atoms in the formation of the band structure and identify the interplay of charge, spin and orbital degrees of freedom. Supported by first-principles calculations and high-resolution surface topography, we reveal the existence of a layer-dependent behaviour. The balance of electron and hole states is found only when considering at least three Te–W–Te layers, showing that the behaviour of WTe2 is not strictly two dimensional.
TiO2 is commonly used as the active switching layer in resistive random access memory. The electrical characteristics of these devices are directly related to the fundamental conditions inside the TiO2 layer and at the interfaces between it and the surrounding electrodes. However, it is complex to disentangle the effects of film “bulk” properties and interface phenomena. The present work uses hard X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (HAXPES) at different excitation energies to distinguish between these regimes. Changes are found to affect the entire thin film, but the most dramatic effects are confined to an interface. These changes are connected to oxygen ions moving and redistributing within the film. Based on the HAXPES results, post-deposition annealing of the TiO2 thin film was investigated as an optimisation pathway in order to reach an ideal compromise between device resistivity and lifetime. The structural and chemical changes upon annealing are investigated using X-ray absorption spectroscopy and are further supported by a range of bulk and surface sensitive characterisation methods. In summary, it is shown that the management of oxygen content and interface quality is intrinsically important to device behavior and that careful annealing procedures are a powerful device optimisation technique.
The manipulation of ferromagnetic layer magnetization via electrical pulse is driving an intense research due to the important applications that this result will have on memory devices and sensors. In this study we realized a magnetotunnel junction in which one layer is made of Galfenol (Fe1-xGax) which possesses one of the highest magnetostrictive coefficient known. The multilayer stack has been grown by molecular beam epitaxy and e-beam evaporation. Optical lithography and physical etching have been combined to obtain 20x20 micron sized pillars. The obtained structures show tunneling conductivity across the junction and a tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) effect of up to 11.5% in amplitude.
We investigated the influence of surfaces in the formation of different crystal structures of a spin crossover compound, namely [Fe(L)2] (LH: (2-(pyrazol-1-yl)-6-(1H-tetrazol-5-yl)pyridine), which is a neutral compound thermally switchable around room temperature. We observed that the surface induces the formation of two different crystal structures, which exhibit opposite spin transitions, i.e. on heating them up to the transition temperature, one polymorph switches from high spin to low spin and the second polymorph switches irreversibly from low spin to high spin. We attributed this inversion to the presence of water molecules H-bonded to the complex tetrazolyl moieties in the crystals. Thin deposits were investigated by means of polarized optical microscopy, atomic force microscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and micro Raman spectroscopy; moreover the analysis of the Raman spectra and the interpretation of spin inversion were supported by DFT calculations.
We investigate the structural, chemical, and magnetic properties on BiFe0.5Cr0.5O3 (BFCO) thin films grown on (001) (110) and (111) oriented SrTiO3 (STO) substrates by x-ray magnetic circular dichroism and x-ray diffraction. We show how highly pure BFCO films, differently from the theoretically expected ferrimagnetic behavior, present a very weak dichroic signal at Cr and Fe edges, with both moments aligned with the external field. Chemically sensitive hysteresis loops show no hysteretic behavior and no saturation up to 6.8 T. The linear responses are induced by the tilting of the Cr and Fe moments along the applied magnetic field.
Spin-crossover metal complexes are highly promising magnetic molecular switches for prospective molecule-based devices. The spin-crossover molecular photoswitches developed so far operate either at very low temperatures or in the liquid phase, which hinders practical applications. Herein, we present a molecular spin-crossover iron(II) complex that can be switched between paramagnetic high-spin and diamagnetic low-spin states with light at room temperature in the solid state. The reversible photoswitching is induced by alternating irradiation with ultraviolet and visible light and proceeds at the molecular level.
Research on spintronics and on multiferroics leads now to the possibility of combining the properties of these materials in order to develop new functional devices. Here we report the integration of a layer of magnetostrictive material into a magnetic tunnel junction. A FeGa/MgO/Fe heterostructure has been grown on a GaAs(001) substrate by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and studied by X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD). The comparison between magneto optical Kerr effect (MOKE) measurements and hysteresis performed in total electron yield allowed distinguishing the ferromagnetic hysteresis loop of the FeGa top layer from that of the Fe buried layer, evidencing a different switching field of the two layers. This observation indicates an absence of magnetic coupling between the two ferromagnetic layers despite the thickness of the MgO barrier of only 2.5 nm. The in-plane magnetic anisotropy has also been investigated. Overall results show the good quality of the heterostructure and the general feasibility of such a device using magnetostrictive materials in magnetic tunnel junction.
In search for dilute magnetic semiconductors, the magnetic properties at the atomic-scale of Fe atoms incorporated in ZnO, in a concentration range of more than five orders of magnitude from 1 × 10−5 to 2.2 at% have been probed using emission 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy on implanted 57Mn and 57Co produced at ISOLDE/CERN. In the ultra-dilute regime (10−5 at%), the system shows isolated paramagnetic Fe3+ ions with a spin–lattice type of relaxation. At higher concentrations (between 0.02 and 0.2 at%) a transition to spin–spin type of relaxation between neighboring Fe3+ is observed, without any signature of magnetic ordering up to 2.2 at%. Despite the many reports of dilute magnetism in 3d-doped ZnO, this atomic level study shows no evidence of any long-range magnetic ordering between isolated Fe atoms incorporated in the ZnO lattice.