First-order phase transitions in solids are notoriously challenging to study. The combination of change in unit cell shape, long range of elastic distortion and flow of latent heat leads to large energy barriers resulting in domain structure, hysteresis and cracking. The situation is worse near a triple point, where more than two phases are involved. The well-known metal–insulator transition in vanadium dioxide1, a popular candidate for ultrafast optical and electrical switching applications, is a case in point. Even though VO2 is one of the simplest strongly correlated materials, experimental difficulties posed by the first-order nature of the metal–insulator transition as well as the involvement of at least two competing insulating phases have led to persistent controversy about its nature1,2,3,4. Here we show that studying single-crystal VO2 nanobeams5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16 in a purpose-built nanomechanical strain apparatus allows investigation of this prototypical phase transition with unprecedented control and precision. Our results include the striking finding that the triple point of the metallic phase and two insulating phases is at the transition temperature, Ttr = Tc, which we determine to be 65.0 ± 0.1 °C. The findings have profound implications for the mechanism of the metal–insulator transition in VO2, but they also demonstrate the importance of this approach for mastering phase transitions in many other strongly correlated materials, such as manganites17 and iron-based superconductors18.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Zylbersztejn, A. & Mott, N. F. Metal–insulator transition in vanadium dioxide. Phys. Rev. B 11, 4383–4395 (1975)
Rice, T. M., Launois, H. & Pouget, J. P. Comment on ‘VO2: Peierls or Mott–Hubbard? A view from band theory’. Phys. Rev. Lett. 73, 3042 (1994)
Biermann, S., Poteryaev, A., Lichtenstein, A. I. & Georges, A. Dynamical singlets and correlation-assisted Peierls transition in VO2 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 026404 (2005)
Eyert, V. VO2: a novel view from band theory. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 016401 (2011)
Wu, J. Q. et al. Strain-induced self organization of metal–insulator domains in single-crystalline VO2 nanobeams. Nano Lett. 6, 2313–2317 (2006)
Guo, H. et al. Mechanics and dynamics of the strain-induced M1–M2 structural phase transition in individual VO2 nanowires. Nano Lett. 11, 3207–3213 (2011)
Atkin, J. M. et al. Strain and temperature dependence of the insulating phases of VO2 near the metal–insulator transition. Phys. Rev. B 85, 020101(R) (2012)
Sohn, J. I. et al. Surface-stress-induced Mott transition and nature of associated spatial phase transition in single crystalline VO2 nanowires. Nano Lett. 9, 3392–3397 (2009)
Zhang, S. X., Chou, J. Y. & Lauhon, L. J. Direct correlation of structural domain formation with the metal insulator transition in a VO2 nanobeam. Nano Lett. 9, 4527–4532 (2009)
Tselev, A. et al. Symmetry relationship and strain-induced transitions between insulating M1 and M2 and metallic R phases of vanadium dioxide. Nano Lett. 10, 4409–4416 (2010)
Tselev, A. et al. Interplay between ferroelastic and metal–insulator phase transitions in strained quasi-two-dimensional VO2 nanoplatelets. Nano Lett. 10, 2003–2011 (2010)
Cao, J. et al. Constant threshold resistivity in the metal–insulator transition of VO2 . Phys. Rev. B 82, 241101(R) (2010)
Wei, J., Wang, Z. H., Chen, W. & Cobden, D. H. New aspects of the metal–insulator transition in single-domain vanadium dioxide nanobeams. Nature Nanotechnol. 4, 420–424 (2009)
Kasirga, T. S. et al. Photoresponse of a strongly correlated material determined by scanning photocurrent microscopy. Nature Nanotechnol. 7, 723–727 (2012)
Cao, J. et al. Strain engineering and one-dimensional organization of metal–insulator domains in single-crystal vanadium dioxide beams. Nature Nanotechnol. 4, 732–737 (2009)
Cao, J. et al. Extended mapping and exploration of the vanadium dioxide stress–temperature phase diagram. Nano Lett. 10, 2667–2673 (2010)
Podzorov, V., Kim, B. G., Kiryukhin, V., Gershenson, M. E. & Cheong, S. W. Martensitic accommodation strain and the metal–insulator transition in manganites. Phys. Rev. B 64, 140406(R) (2001)
Chu, J.-H., Kuo, H.-H., Analytis, J. G. & Fisher, I. R. Divergent nematic susceptibility in an iron arsenide superconductor. Science 337, 710–712 (2012)
Becker, M. F., Buckman, A. B. & Walser, R. M. Femtosecond laser excitation of the semiconductor–metal phase transition in VO2 . Appl. Phys. Lett. 65, 1507–1509 (1994)
Hilton, D. J. et al. Enhanced photosusceptibility near Tc for the light-induced insulator-to-metal phase transition in vanadium dioxide. Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 226401 (2007)
Kubler, C. et al. Coherent structural dynamics and electronic correlations during an ultrafast insulator-to-metal phase transition in VO2 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 116401 (2007)
Qazilbash, M. M. et al. Mott transition in VO2 revealed by infrared spectroscopy and nano-imaging. Science 318, 1750–1753 (2007)
Jones, A. C., Berweger, S., Wei, J., Cobden, D. & Raschke, M. B. Nano-optical investigations of the metal–insulator phase behavior of individual VO2 microcrystals. Nano Lett. 10, 1574–1581 (2010)
Nakano, M. et al. Collective bulk carrier delocalization driven by electrostatic surface charge accumulation. Nature 487, 459–462 (2012)
Jeong, J. et al. Suppression of metal–insulator transition in VO2 by electric field–induced oxygen vacancy formation. Science 339, 1402–1405 (2013)
Wei, J., Ji, H., Guo, W. H., Nevidomskyy, A. H. & Natelson, D. Hydrogen stabilization of metallic vanadium dioxide in single-crystal nanobeams. Nature Nanotechnol. 7, 357–362 (2012)
Pouget, J. P., Launois, H., Dhaenens, J. P., Merenda, P. & Rice, T. M. Electron localization induced by uniaxial stress in pure VO2 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 35, 873–875 (1975)
Marezio, M., McWhan, B., Dernier, P. D. & Remeika, J. P. Structural aspects of metal–insulator transitions in Cr-doped VO2 . Phys. Rev. B 5, 2541–2551 (1972)
Kucharczyk, D. & Niklewski, T. Accurate X-ray determination of the lattice parameters and the thermal expansion coefficients of VO2 near the transition temperature. J. Appl. Crystallogr. 12, 370–373 (1979)
Berglund, C. N. & Guggenheim, H. J. Electronic properties of VO2 near the semiconductor–metal transition. Phys. Rev. 185, 1022–1033 (1969)
We thank B. Spivak, A. Levanyuk and J. Wei for discussions. The silicon chips were patterned at the University of Washington Microfabrication Facility and the Nanofabrication Facility at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, award DE-SC0002197.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Park, J., Coy, J., Kasirga, T. et al. Measurement of a solid-state triple point at the metal–insulator transition in VO2. Nature 500, 431–434 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12425
Reversible Polymorphic Transition and Hysteresis‐Driven Phase Selectivity in Single‐Crystalline C8‐BTBT Rods
Large non-thermal contribution to picosecond strain pulse generation using the photo-induced phase transition in VO2
Nature Communications (2020)
Physical Review Research (2020)
Advanced Electronic Materials (2020)
Nature Communications (2020)