Creation and control of a two-dimensional electron liquid at the bare SrTiO3 surface

Nat Mater. 2011 Feb;10(2):114-8. doi: 10.1038/nmat2943. Epub 2011 Jan 16.


Many-body interactions in transition-metal oxides give rise to a wide range of functional properties, such as high-temperature superconductivity, colossal magnetoresistance or multiferroicity . The seminal recent discovery of a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) at the interface of the insulating oxides LaAlO(3) and SrTiO(3) (ref. 4) represents an important milestone towards exploiting such properties in all-oxide devices. This conducting interface shows a number of appealing properties, including a high electron mobility, superconductivity and large magnetoresistance, and can be patterned on the few-nanometre length scale. However, the microscopic origin of the interface 2DEG is poorly understood. Here, we show that a similar 2DEG, with an electron density as large as 8×10(13) cm(-2), can be formed at the bare SrTiO(3) surface. Furthermore, we find that the 2DEG density can be controlled through exposure of the surface to intense ultraviolet light. Subsequent angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy measurements reveal an unusual coexistence of a light quasiparticle mass and signatures of strong many-body interactions.