Engineering a Spin-Orbital Magnetic Insulator by Tailoring Superlattices

Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Jun 19;114(24):247209. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.247209. Epub 2015 Jun 18.


In 5d Ir oxides with an interplay of spin-orbit coupling and electron correlations, we have tailored a spin-orbital magnetic insulator out of a semimetal SrIrO(3) by tuning the structure through superlattices [(SrIrO(3))(m), SrTiO(3)] (m=1,2,3,4, and ∞). We observed the systematic decrease of the magnetic ordering temperature and the resistivity as a function of m. The transition from the semimetal to the insulator is found to be closely linked to the appearance of magnetism at m≃3. Long range magnetic ordering was realized even in the m=1 single layer superlattice, implying that the design and realization of novel electronic phases is feasible at the level of a single atomic layer in complex Ir oxides.