Electrostatic fields tune the ground state of interfaces between complex oxide materials. Electronic properties, such as conductivity and superconductivity, can be tuned and then used to create and control circuit elements and gate-defined devices. Here we show that naturally occurring twin boundaries, with properties that are different from their surrounding bulk, can tune the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface 2DEG at the nanoscale. In particular, SrTiO3 domain boundaries have the unusual distinction of remaining highly mobile down to low temperatures, and were recently suggested to be polar. Here we apply localized pressure to an individual SrTiO3 twin boundary and detect a change in LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface current distribution. Our data directly confirm the existence of polarity at the twin boundaries, and demonstrate that they can serve as effective tunable gates. As the location of SrTiO3 domain walls can be controlled using external field stimuli, our findings suggest a novel approach to manipulate SrTiO3-based devices on the nanoscale.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Open Access articles citing this article.
Scientific Reports Open Access 01 September 2022
Communications Physics Open Access 30 May 2022
Nature Communications Open Access 03 June 2021
Subscribe to Nature+
Get immediate online access to Nature and 55 other Nature journal
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $9.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Caviglia, A. D. et al. Electric field control of the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface ground state. Nature 456, 624–627 (2008).
Thiel, S., Hammerl, G., Schmehl, A., Schneider, C. W. & Mannhart, J. Tunable quasi-two-dimensional electron gases in oxide heterostructures. Science 313, 1942–1945 (2006).
Caviglia, A. D. et al. Tunable Rashba spin–orbit interaction at oxide interfaces. Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 126803 (2010).
Ben Shalom, M., Sachs, M., Rakhmilevitch, D., Palevski, A. & Dagan, Y. Tuning spin–orbit coupling and superconductivity at the SrTiO3/LaAlO3 interface: a magnetotransport study. Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 126802 (2010).
Goswami, S. et al. Quantum interference in an interfacial superconductor. Nat. Nanotech. 11, 861–865 (2016).
Cen, C. et al. Nanoscale control of an interfacial metal–insulator transition at room temperature. Nat. Mater. 7, 298–302 (2008).
Cheng, G. et al. Sketched oxide single-electron transistor. Nat. Nanotech. 6, 343–347 (2011).
Cowley, R. A. Lattice dynamics and phase transitions of strontium titanate. Phys. Rev. 134, A981–A997 (1964).
Rowley, S. E. et al. Ferroelectric quantum criticality. Nat. Phys. 10, 367–372 (2014).
Blinc, R., Zalar, B., Laguta, V. V. & Itoh, M. Order–disorder component in the phase transition mechanism of 18O enriched strontium titanate. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 147601 (2005).
Scott, J. F., Salje, E. K. H. & Carpenter, M. A. Domain wall damping and elastic softening in SrTiO3: evidence for polar twin walls. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 187601 (2012).
Salje, E. K. H., Aktas, O., Carpenter, M. A., Laguta, V. V. & Scott, J. F. Domains within domains and walls within walls: evidence for polar domains in cryogenic SrTiO3 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 247603 (2013).
Zykova-Timan, T. & Salje, E. K. H. Highly mobile vortex structures inside polar twin boundaries in SrTiO3 . Appl. Phys. Lett. 104, 2012–2016 (2014).
Goncalves-Ferreira, L., Redfern, S. A. T., Artacho, E., Salje, E. & Lee, W. T. Trapping of oxygen vacancies in the twin walls of perovskite. Phys. Rev. B 81, 024109 (2010).
Seidel, J. et al. Conduction at domain walls in oxide multiferroics. Nat. Mater. 8, 229–234 (2009).
Whyte, J. R. et al. Ferroelectric domain wall injection. Adv. Mater. 26, 293–298 (2014).
Crassous, A., Sluka, T., Tagantsev, A. K. & Setter, N. Polarization charge as a reconfigurable quasi-dopant in ferroelectric thin films. Nat. Nanotech. 10, 614–619 (2015).
Ohtomo, A. & Hwang, H. Y. A high-mobility electron gas at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterointerface. Nature 427, 423–426 (2004).
Zubko, P., Gariglio, S., Gabay, M., Ghosez, P. & Triscone, J.-M. Interface physics in complex oxide heterostructures. Annu. Rev. Condens. Matter Phys. 2, 141–165 (2011).
Kalisky, B. et al. Locally enhanced conductivity due to the tetragonal domain structure in LAO/STO heterointerfaces. Nat. Mater. 12, 1091–1095 (2013).
Honig, M. et al. Local electrostatic imaging of striped domain order in LaAlO3/SrTiO3 . Nat. Mater. 12, 1112–1118 (2013).
Ma, H. J. H. et al. Local electrical imaging of tetragonal domains and field-induced ferroelectric twin walls in conducting STO. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 257601 (2016).
Haeni, J. H. et al. Room-temperature ferroelectricity in strained SrTiO3 . Nature 430, 758–761 (2004).
Zubko, P., Catalan, G., Buckley, A., Welche, P. R. L. & Scott, J. F. Strain-gradient-induced polarization in SrTiO3 single crystals. Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 167601 (2007).
Erlich, Z. et al. Optical study of tetragonal domains in LaAlO3/SrTiO3 . J. Supercond. Nov. Magn. 28, 1017–1020 (2015).
Frenkel, Y. et al. Anisotropic transport at the LaAlO3 /SrTiO3 interface explained by microscopic imaging of channel-flow over SrTiO3 domains. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 8, 12514–12519 (2016).
Kityk, A. et al. Low-frequency superelasticity and nonlinear elastic behavior of SrTiO3 crystals. Phys. Rev. B 61, 946–956 (2000).
Chrosch, J. & Salje, E. K. H. Near-surface domain structures in uniaxially stressed SrTiO3 . J. Phys. Condens. Matter 10, 2817–2827 (1999).
Sharma, P. et al. Mechanical tuning of LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface conductivity. Nano Lett. 15, 3547–3551 (2015).
Harrison, R. J. & Salje, E. K. H. Ferroic switching, avalanches, and the Larkin length: needle domains in LaAlO3 . Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 9–12 (2011).
Goswami, S., Mulazimoglu, E., Vandersypen, L. M. K. & Caviglia, A. D. Nanoscale electrostatic control of oxide interfaces. Nano Lett. 15, 2627–2632 (2015).
Stolichnov, I. et al. Persistent conductive footprints of 109 domain walls in bismuth ferrite films. Appl. Phys. Lett. 104, 132902 (2014).
Kagawa, F., Minami, N., Horiuchi, S. & Tokura, Y. A thermal domain-wall creep near a ferroelectric quantum critical point. Nat. Commun. 7, 10675 (2016).
Bell, C., Harashima, S., Hikita, Y. & Hwang, H. Y. Thickness dependence of the mobility at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface. Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 222111 (2009).
Simon, S. H. Comment on ‘Evidence for an anisotropic state of two-dimensional electrons in high Landau levels’. Phys. Rev. Lett. 394, 4223 (1999).
Wortman, J. J. & Evans, R. A. Young’s modulus, shear modulus, and Poisson’s ratio in silicon and germanium. J. Appl. Phys. 36, 153–156 (1965).
Biegalski, M. D. et al. Critical thickness of high structural quality SrTiO3 films grown on orthorhombic (101) DyScO3 . J. Appl. Phys. 104, 1–11 (2008).
Scott, J. F. & Ledbetter, H. Interpretation of elastic anomalies in SrTiO3 at 37K. Z. Phys. B 639, 635–639 (1997).
Y.F., N.H., Y.S. and B.K. were supported by the European Research Council grant ERC-2014-STG-639792 and Israel Science Foundation grant ISF-1102/13 and ISF-1281/17. Z.C., Y.H. and H.Y.H. acknowledge support by the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, under contract DE-AC02–76SF00515 (Y.H.), and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s EPiQS Initiative through grant GBMF4415 (Z.C.). E.K.H.S. was supported by EPSRC grant EP/P024904/1.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Frenkel, Y., Haham, N., Shperber, Y. et al. Imaging and tuning polarity at SrTiO3 domain walls. Nature Mater 16, 1203–1208 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4966
This article is cited by
Scientific Reports (2022)
Communications Physics (2022)
Nature Communications (2021)
Current vortices and magnetic fields driven by moving polar twin boundaries in ferroelastic materials
npj Computational Materials (2020)
Site-specific spectroscopic measurement of spin and charge in (LuFeO3)m/(LuFe2O4)1 multiferroic superlattices
Nature Communications (2020)