Letter abstract

Nature Physics 4, 936 - 939 (2008)
Published online: 5 October 2008 | doi:10.1038/nphys1094

Subject Category: Condensed-matter physics

Wigner crystallization in a quasi-three-dimensional electronic system

B. A. Piot1, Z. Jiang2,3, C. R. Dean1, L. W. Engel2, G. Gervais1, L. N. Pfeiffer4 & K. W. West4


When a strong magnetic field is applied perpendicularly (along z) to a sheet confining electrons to two dimensions (xy), highly correlated states emerge as a result of the interplay between electron–electron interactions, confinement and disorder. These so-called fractional quantum Hall liquids1 form a series of states that ultimately give way to a periodic electron solid that crystallizes at high magnetic fields. This quantum phase of electrons has been identified previously as a disorder-pinned two-dimensional Wigner crystal with broken translational symmetry in the xy plane2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Here, we report our discovery of a new insulating quantum phase of electrons when, in addition to a perpendicular field, a very high magnetic field is applied in a geometry parallel (y direction) to the two-dimensional electron sheet. Our data point towards this new quantum phase being an electron solid in a 'quasi-three-dimensional' configuration induced by orbital coupling with the parallel field.

  1. Department of Physics, McGill University, Montreal, H3A 2T8, Canada
  2. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA
  3. Department of Physics, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA
  4. Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent Incorporation, Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974, USA

Correspondence to: G. Gervais1 e-mail: gervais@physics.mcgill.ca


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