It is well-known that all the phases of the manufacturing influence the extraordinary aesthetic and acoustic features of Stradivari’s instruments. However, these masterpieces still keep some of their secrets hidden by the lack of documentary evidence. In particular, there is not a general consensus on the use of a protein-based ground coating directly spread on the wood surface by the Cremonese Master. The present work demonstrates that infrared scattering-type scanning near-fields optical microscopy (s-SNOM) may provide unprecedented information on very complex cross-sectioned microsamples collected from two of Stradivari’s violins, nanoresolved chemical sensitivity being the turning point for detecting minute traces of a specific compound, namely proteins, hidden by the matrix when macro or micro sampling approaches are exploited. This nanoresolved chemical-sensitive technique contributed new and robust evidence to the long-debated question about the use of proteinaceous materials by Stradivari.
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.
Space and mirror charge effects in time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy can be modeled to obtain relevant information on the recombination dynamics of charge carriers. We successfully extracted from these phenomena the reneutralization characteristic time of positive charges generated by photoexcitation in CeO2-based films. For the above-band-gap excitation, a large fraction of positive carriers with a lifetime that exceeds 100 ps are generated. Otherwise, the sub-band-gap excitation induces the formation of a significantly smaller fraction of charges with lifetimes of tens of picoseconds, ascribed to the excitation of defect sites or to multiphoton absorption. When the oxide is combined with Ag nanoparticles, the sub-band-gap excitation of localized surface plasmon resonances leads to reneutralization times longer than 300 ps. This was interpreted by considering the electronic unbalance at the surface of the nanoparticles generated by the injection of electrons, via localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) decay, into CeO2. This study represents an example of how to exploit the space charge effect in gaining access to the surface carrier dynamics in CeO2 within the picosecond range of time, which is fundamental to describe the photocatalytic processes.
Spin-polarized electrons confined in low-dimensional structures are of high interest for spintronics applications. Here, we investigate the electronic structure of an ordered array of Bi monomer and dimer chains on the Ag(110) surface. By means of spin-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we find Rashba-Bychkov split bands crossing the Fermi level with one-dimensional constant energy contours. These bands are up-spin polarized for positive wave vectors and down-spin polarized for negative wave vectors, at variance with the Rashba-Bychkov model that predicts a pair of states with opposite spin in each half of the surface Brillouin zone. Density functional theory shows that spin-selective hybridization with the Ag bulk bands originates this unconventional spin texture.
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.
The ever-growing demand for Li-ion batteries requires high-capacity electrode materials that should also be environmentally benign, Co-free, secure and durable, to achieve an optimal compromise between sustainability and functional performances. Spinel LiMn2O4 (LMO) is a state-of-the-art material, which, in principle, could satisfy such requirements. However, an undesired cubic-tetragonal phase transition favors Jahn-Teller (J-T) spinel distortion, leading to severe capacity reduction upon cycling below 3 V. Here, we propose a novel dual-doping strategy for LMO, based on the partial substitution of Mn(III) with Fe(III) and Ti(IV) to design new active materials for high-capacity cathodes, namely LiFexMn2-x-yTiyO4 (LFMT), with Li/Mn ratio ranging between 1 and 1.7. The substitution of Mn with Fe and Ti suppresses the J-T distortion, which is often still evident in the case of Ti-doped LMO. This allows cycling in a wider voltage range (4.8-1.5 V), thus resulting in higher capacity and significantly improved stability. The lithiation mechanisms were investigated by combining ex-situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS analyses). It demonstrated that the only redox-active metal is Mn, while Fe and Ti are electrochemically inactive. The extensive electrochemical lithiation/delithiation of the LFMT compositions brought to unprecedented results, which give evidence of stabilizing cation disorder through the formation of Mn-rich and Mn-poor domains, which leades to two spinel phases with different Mn:Ti ratios. These insights into the lithiation mechanism pave the way for a better understanding of the doping chemistry and electrochemistry of Mn-based spinels as cathode materials for Li-ion batteries.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The growing demand for innovative means in biomedical, therapeutic and diagnostic sciences has led to the development of nanomedicine. In this context, naturally occurring tubular nanostructures composed of rolled sheets of alumino-silicates, known as halloysite nanotubes, have found wide application. Halloysite nanotubes indeed have surface properties that favor the selective loading of biomolecules. Here, we present the first, to our knowledge, structural study of DNA-decorated halloysite nanotubes, carried out with nanometric spatially-resolved infrared spectroscopy. Single nanotube absorption measurements indicate a partial covering of halloysite by DNA molecules, which show significant structural modifications taking place upon loading. The present study highlights the constraints for the use of nanostructured clays as DNA carriers and demonstrates the power of super-resolved infrared spectroscopy as an effective and versatile tool for the evaluation of immobilization processes in the context of drug delivery and gene transfer.
Preferential oxidation of CO (COPrOx) is a catalytic reaction targeting the removal of trace amounts of CO from hydrogen-rich gas mixtures. Non-noble metal catalysts, such as Cu and Co, can be equally active to Pt for the reaction; however, their commercialization is limited by their poor stability. We have recently shown that CoO is the most active state of cobalt for COPrOx, but under certain reaction conditions, it is readily oxidized to Co3O4 and deactivates. Here, we report a simple method to stabilize the Co2+ state by vanadium addition. The V-promoted cobalt catalyst exhibits considerably higher activity and stability than pure cobalt. The nature of the catalytic active sites during COPrOx was established by operando NAP-XPS and NEXAFS, while the stability of the Co2+ state on the surface was verified by in situ NEXAFS at 1 bar pressure. The active phase consists of an ultra-thin cobalt-vanadate surface layer, containing tetrahedral V5+ and octahedral Co2+ cations, with an electronic and geometric structure that is deviating from the standard mixed bulk oxides. In addition, V addition helps to maintain the population of Co2+ species involved in the reaction, inhibiting carbonate species formation that are responsible for the deactivation. The promoting effect of V is discussed in terms of enhancement of CoO redox stability on the surface induced by electronic and structural modifications. These results demonstrate that V-promoted cobalt is a promising COPrOx catalyst and validate the application of in situ spectroscopy to provide the concept for designing better performing catalysts.
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 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.
We explored the properties of the quasi-binary Bi2Se3-Bi2S3 system over a wide compositional range. X-ray diffraction analysis demonstrates that rhombohedral crystals can be synthesized within the solid solution interval 0-22 mol% Bi2S3, while at 33 mol% Bi2S3 only orthorhombic crystals are obtained. Core level photoemission spectroscopy reveals the presence of Bi3+, Se2- and S2- species and the absence of metallic species, thus indicating that S incorporation into Bi2Se3 proceeds prevalently through the substitution of Se with S. Spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy shows that topological surface states develop on the surfaces of the Bi2Se3-ySy (y <= 0.66) rhombohedral crystals, in close analogy with the prototypical case of Bi2Se3, while the orthorhombic crystals with higher S content turn out to be trivial semiconductors. Our results connect unambiguously the phase diagram and electronic properties of the Bi2Se3-Bi2S3 system.
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.
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.
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.
The discovery of 2D conductivity at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface has been linking, for over a decade, two of the major current research fields in materials science: correlated transition‐metal‐oxide systems and low‐dimensional systems. Notably, despite the 2D nature of the interfacial electron gas, the samples are 3D objects with thickness in the mm range. This prevented researchers so far from adopting strategies that are only viable for fully 2D materials, or from effectively exploiting degrees of freedom related to strain, strain gradient and curvature. Here a method based on pure strain engineering for obtaining freestanding LaAlO3/SrTiO3 membranes with micrometer lateral dimensions is demonstrated. Detailed transmission electron microscopy investigations show that the membranes are fully epitaxial and that their curvature results in a huge strain gradient, each layer showing a mixed compressive/tensile strain state. Electronic devices are fabricated by realizing ad hoc circuits for individual micro‐membranes transferred on silicon chips. The samples exhibit metallic conductivity and electrostatic field effect like 2D‐electron systems in bulk heterostructures. The results open a new path for adding oxide functionalities into semiconductor electronics, potentially allowing for ultra‐low voltage gating of a superconducting transistors, micromechanical control of the 2D electron gas mediated by ferroelectricity and flexoelectricity, and on‐chip straintronics.
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.
We study the 2×2 charge density wave (CDW) in epitaxially-grown monolayer TiSe2. Our temperature-dependent angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy measurements indicate a strong-coupling instability, but reveal how not all states couple equally to the symmetry-breaking distortion, with an electron pocket persisting to low temperature as a non-bonding state. We further show how the CDW order can be suppressed by a modest doping of around 0.06(2) electrons per Ti. Our results provide an opportunity for quantitative comparison with a realistic tight-binding model, which emphasises a crucial role of structural aspects of the phase transition in understanding the hybridisation in the ground state. Together, our work provides a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenology of the CDW in TiSe2 in the 2D limit.
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.
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.
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.
Ion-beam amorphization of crystalline silicon is reviewed. All the peculiar features of the process (temperature effect, incubation fluence, superlinear behavior of the amorphous fraction as a function of the ion fluence, dose–rate effects, ion mass/energy dependence, doping influence, etc.) can be explained within the classical theory of nucleation and growth based on capillarity. Nucleation and growth rates depend on the free energy of the amorphous clusters and on the kinetics balance between damage creation at the prompt stage of each ion collision cascade and competitive re–crystallization induced by atomic jumps of long living defects at the cluster surface. The model explains the damage accumulation kinetics either in dilute or dense collision cascade. It is an extension of the theoretical approach describing the reverse process, i.e. the ion–beam assisted nucleation and growth of crystalline clusters in the amorphous material. The description is independent on the atomistic nature of the involved defects.
Combinations of nontrivial band topology and long-range magnetic order hold promise for realizations of novel spintronic phenomena, such as the quantum anomalous Hall effect and the topological magnetoelectric effect. Following theoretical advances, material candidates are emerging. Yet, so far a compound that combines a band-inverted electronic structure with an intrinsic net magnetization remains unrealized. MnBi2Te4 has been established as the first antiferromagnetic topological insulator and constitutes the progenitor of a modular (Bi2Te3)n(MnBi2Te4) series. Here, for n=1, we confirm a nonstoichiometric composition proximate to MnBi4Te7. We establish an antiferromagnetic state below 13 K followed by a state with a net magnetization and ferromagnetic-like hysteresis below 5 K. Angle-resolved photoemission experiments and density-functional calculations reveal a topologically nontrivial surface state on the MnBi4Te7(0001) surface, analogous to the nonmagnetic parent compound Bi2Te3. Our results establish MnBi4Te7 as the first band-inverted compound with intrinsic net magnetization providing a versatile platform for the realization of magnetic topological states of matter.
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.
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.
The modifications of chemical and magnetic properties of hybrid ferromagnetic/organic interfaces composed of Co (Ni) as the top layer and iron phthalocyanine, FePc, as a thin film (deposited on Cu surfaces) are studied by means of X-ray photoemission and absorption spectroscopies. The bond formation between Co (Ni) and carbon and nitrogen atoms is indicated by the presence of additional features in C 1s and N 1s core level spectra. The interaction between Co (Ni) atoms and Fe within FePc induces an overall redistribution of 3d orbital population, as shown by the decrease of the ratio with respect to one of the noninteracting FePc films. X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) reveals in-plane magnetization of the Co (Ni) film on top of FePc, which appears at room temperature and in remanence for Co and Ni film thicknesses of 0.4 and 4 nm, respectively. In the case of the Co/FePc interface, we studied the magnetic response in the presence of a field of 6 T and in remanence observing the Fe XMCD intensity and line shape. The differences in XMCD spectra are related to the co-existence of two contributions to the chemical and magnetic interactions according to the distance between the molecules and the metal interface. The closest to the metal top layer chemically bind and align with its magnetization, whereas the farthest have no preferential bonding and magnetic alignment, except in the presence of a large external magnetic field. These findings are relevant to the understanding and the development of hybrid organic/inorganic spin devices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Metal-phthalocyanines are quasi-planar heterocyclic macrocycle molecules with a highly conjugated structure. They can be engineered at the molecular scale (central atom, ligand) to tailor new properties for organic spintronics devices. In this study, we evaluated the magnetic behavior of FePc in a ∼1 nm molecular film sandwiched between two ferromagnetic films: cobalt (bottom) and nickel (top). In the single interface, FePc in contact with a Co film is magnetically coupled with the inorganic film magnetization, though the relatively small Fe(Pc) X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) signal in remanence, with respect to that observed in applied field of 6 T, suggests that a fraction of molecules in the organometallic film have their magnetic moment not aligned or antiparallel with respect to Co. When in contact with two interfaces, Fe(Pc) XMCD doubles, indicating that part of the Fe(Pc) are now aligned with the Ni topmost layer, saturated at 1 T. We discussed the relevance of the finding in terms of understanding and developing hybrid organic/inorganic spin devices.
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 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.
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.
The design and characterization of a HHG source conceived for Time and Angle Resolved PhotoElectron Spectroscopy (TR-ARPES) experiments are presented. The harmonics are selected through a grating monochromator with an innovative design able to provide XUV radiation for two distinct TR-ARPES setups.
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.
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.
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.
The knowledge of the picosecond dynamics of the energy level alignment between donor and acceptor materials in organic photovoltaic devices under working conditions is a challenge for fundamental material research. We measured by means of time-resolved Resonant X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy (RPES) the energy level alignment in ZnPc/C60 films. We employed 800 nm femtosecond laser pulses to pump the system simulating sunlight excitation and X-rays from the synchrotron as a probe. We measured changes in the valence bands due to pump induced modifications of the interface dipole. Our measurements prove the feasibility of time-resolved RPES with high repetition rate sources.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.