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Electric field control of the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface ground state


Interfaces between complex oxides are emerging as one of the most interesting systems in condensed matter physics1. In this special setting, in which translational symmetry is artificially broken, a variety of new and unusual electronic phases can be promoted2. Theoretical studies predict complex phase diagrams and suggest the key role of the charge carrier density in determining the systems’ ground states. A particularly fascinating system is the conducting interface between the band insulators LaAlO3 and SrTiO3 (ref. 3). Recently two possible ground states have been experimentally identified: a magnetic state4 and a two-dimensional superconducting condensate5. Here we use the electric field effect to explore the phase diagram of the system. The electrostatic tuning of the carrier density allows an on/off switching of superconductivity and drives a quantum phase transition6,7,8 between a two-dimensional superconducting state and an insulating state. Analyses of the magnetotransport properties in the insulating state are consistent with weak localization and do not provide evidence for magnetism. The electric field control of superconductivity demonstrated here opens the way to the development of new mesoscopic superconducting circuits.

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Figure 1: Dielectric characterization of the field-effect device.
Figure 2: Field-effect modulation of the transport properties.
Figure 3: Electronic phase diagram of the LaAlO 3 /SrTiO 3 interface.
Figure 4: Field-effect modulation of the magnetotransport properties.


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We thank T. Giamarchi, L. Benfatto, T. Kopp and A.-S. Ruetschi for discussions and M. Lopes for technical assistance. We acknowledge financial support by the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Centre of Competence in Research ‘Materials with Novel Electronic Properties’ MaNEP and Division II, by the European Union through the project ‘Nanoxide’, by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through the SFB484, and by the European Science Foundation through the program ‘Thin Films for Novel Oxide Devices’.

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Caviglia, A., Gariglio, S., Reyren, N. et al. Electric field control of the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface ground state. Nature 456, 624–627 (2008).

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