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PhD : STEM-EELS-abinitio Structure of Thin Films Nickelate

Employer: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Posted: June 10, 2014
Expires: July 31, 2014
Requisition number:

Science jobs from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS):
Studies of the crystal and electronic structure of thin films nickelate. Impact on the metal-insulator transitions.

Groupe de microscopie et spectroscopie électronique (O. Stéphan), lab. Physique des Solides, CNRS UMR8502, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay, France, and Groupe de JM. Triscone, Département de Physique de la Matière Condensée, Université de Genève, Suisse.

In this PhD thesis project, we propose to use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to study the properties of thin films and artificial structures based on nickelates (chemical formula RENiO3 where RE denotes a rare earth element), and as well as some structures based titanates. The nickelates are a family of compounds known for their fascinating transition from a metallic state at high temperature to an insulating state at low temperatures. Also at low temperatures, these materials develop antiferromagnetic phase [see, for example, 1]. The LaNiO3 is the only family member to stay a paramagnetic metal to the lower temperatures. Due to the advances in preparation techniques, thin films and heterostructures with "monocrystalline" high quality are nowadays available and it has been reported that epitaxial strain and dimensionality dramatically alter the electronic properties of these compounds [2,3]. At the same time, the perovskite structure of these materials can be combined in the form of very thin layers with an "atomic" accuracy superlattices which have unique properties. For example, a non-magnetic compound such as LaNiO3 may become magnetic when combined with manganites [4].

In the project carried out between the groups of Orsay (France) and of Geneva (Switzerland), the STEM-EELS (scanning transmission electron microscope - electron energy loss spectroscopy) studies, performed on a last generation microscope, will be performed to investigate the atomic scale structural and electronic properties of these thin layers and heterostructures. A particular interest will be devoted to understand the effects associated with charge transfer at the interfaces or the role of cations displacement [5]. A big challenge will be to understand how the oxygen octahedra present in these structures, deform - these deformations controlling some electronic properties. The Geneva group has worked extensively on nickelates and will be in charge of preparing the samples - the Orsay group, expert in STEM-EELS, carry out the microscopy studies. The two groups have worked on similar themes. [5] The thesis work will mainly be done in Paris, even if strong interactions are planned with the Swiss group. This work requires a taste for the experimental aspects of solid state physics and nanomaterials. Work will also be carried out in close collaboration with numerical simulations experts (mainly type ab-initio). The candidate must be motivated by work carried out in a dynamic and international environments requiring travel between the two institutions.

[1] M.L. Medarde, J. Phys. Condens. Matter 9, 1679 (1997). [2] R. Scherwitzl, S. Gariglio, M. Gabay, P. Zubko, M. Gibert, and J.-M. Triscone. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 246403 (2001). [3] R. Scherwitzl, P. Zubko, I. Lezama, S. Ono, A. Morpurgo, G. Catalan, J.-M. Triscone. Adv. Mater. 22, 5517 (2010). [4] M. Gibert, P. Zubko, R. Scherwitzl, J. Iniguez, and J.-M. Triscone, Nature Materials 11, 195 (2012). [5] P. Zubko, N. Jecklin, A. Torres-Pardo, P. Aguado-Puente, A. Gloter, C. Lichtensteiger, J. Junquera, O. Stéphan, J.-M. Triscone. Nano Lett. 12, 2846 (2012).

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