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Scanning probe microscopy investigation of complex-oxide heterostructures

Bi, Feng (2015) Scanning probe microscopy investigation of complex-oxide heterostructures. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Advances in the growth of precisely tailored complex-oxide heterostructures have led to new emergent behavior and associated discoveries. One of the most successful examples consists of an ultrathin layer of LaAlO3 (LAO) deposited on TiO2-terminated SrTiO3 (STO), where a high mobility quasi-two dimensional electron liquid (2DEL) is formed at the interface. Such 2DEL demonstrates a variety of novel properties, including field tunable metal-insulator transition, superconductivity, strong spin-orbit coupling, magnetic and ferroelectric like behavior. Particularly, for 3-unit-cell (3 u.c.) LAO/STO heterostructures, it was demonstrated that a conductive atomic force microscope (c-AFM) tip can be used to “write” or “erase” nanoscale conducting channels at the interface, making LAO/STO a highly flexible platform to fabricate novel nanoelectronics. This thesis is focused on scanning probe microscopy studies of LAO/STO properties. We investigate the mechanism of c-AFM lithography over 3 u.c. LAO/STO in controlled ambient conditions by using a vacuum AFM, and find that the water molecules dissociated on the LAO surface play a critical role during the c-AFM lithography process. We also perform electro-mechanical response measurements over top-gated LAO/STO devices. Simultaneous piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) and capacitance measurements reveal a correlation between LAO lattice distortion and interfacial carrier density, which suggests that PFM could not only serve as a powerful tool to map the carrier density at the interface but also provide insight into previously reported frequency dependence of capacitance enhancement of top-gated LAO/STO structures. To study magnetism at the LAO/STO interface, magnetic force microscopy (MFM) and magnetoelectric force microscopy (MeFM) are carried out to search for magnetic signatures that depend on the carrier density at the interface. Results demonstrate an electronically-controlled ferromagnetic phase on top-gated LAO/STO heterostructures at room temperature. A follow-up study shows that electronically-controlled magnetic signatures are observed only within a LAO thickness window from 8 u.c. to 30 u.c. We also have developed a cryogen-free low-temperature AFM based on a commercial vacuum AFM. The modified system operates under high vacuum (10^-6 Torr) and the base temperature is ~10 K. This low temperature AFM will be used in future experiments.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bi, Feng
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLevy, Jeremyjlevy@pitt.eduJLEVY
Committee MemberDevaty, DEVATY
Committee MemberJordan, Kenneth D.jordan@pitt.eduJORDAN
Committee MemberD'Urso, DURSOBR
Committee MemberLebovich, Adamakl2@pitt.eduAKL2
Date: 17 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 19 March 2015
Approval Date: 17 June 2015
Submission Date: 23 March 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 149
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Physics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: scanning probe microscopy, complex oxide heterostructure, LaAlO3/SrTiO3
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015 15:12
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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