According to Bloch's theorem, electronic wavefunctions in perfectly ordered crystals are extended, which implies that the probability of finding an electron is the same over the entire crystal1. Such extended states can lead to metallic behaviour. But when disorder is introduced in the crystal, electron states can become localized, and the system can undergo a metal–insulator transition (also known as an Anderson transition)2,3,4. Here we theoretically investigate the effect on the physical properties of the electron wavefunctions of introducing long-range correlations in the disorder in one-dimensional binary solids, and find a correlation-induced metal–insulator transition. We perform numerical simulations using a one-dimensional tight-binding model, and find a threshold value for the exponent characterizing the long-range correlations of the system. Above this threshold, and in the thermodynamic limit, the system behaves as a conductor within a broad energy band; below threshold, the system behaves as an insulator. We discuss the possible relevance of this result for electronic transport in DNA, which displays long-range correlations5,6 and has recently been reported to be a one-dimensional disordered conductor7,8,9,10.
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We thank L. Cruz for discussions, and the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Cultura and NIH/National Center for Research Resources for support.
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
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Carpena, P., Bernaola-Galván, P., Ivanov, P. et al. Metal–insulator transition in chains with correlated disorder. Nature 418, 955–959 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature00948
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