Manipulating the insulator–metal transition in strongly correlated materials has attracted a broad range of research activity due to its promising applications in, for example, memories, electrochromic windows and optical modulators1,2. Electric-field-controlled hydrogenation using ionic liquids3,4,5,6 and solid electrolytes7,8,9 is a useful strategy to obtain the insulator–metal transition with corresponding electron filling, but faces technical challenges for miniaturization due to the complicated device architecture. Here we demonstrate reversible electric-field control of nanoscale hydrogenation into VO2 with a tunable insulator–metal transition using a scanning probe. The Pt-coated probe serves as an efficient catalyst to split hydrogen molecules, while the positive-biased voltage accelerates hydrogen ions between the tip and sample surface to facilitate their incorporation, leading to non-volatile transformation from insulating VO2 into conducting HxVO2. Remarkably, a negative-biased voltage triggers dehydrogenation to restore the insulating VO2. This work demonstrates a local and reversible electric-field-controlled insulator–metal transition through hydrogen evolution and presents a versatile pathway to exploit multiple functional devices at the nanoscale.
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This research was supported by the Basic Science Center Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 51788104); the National Basic Research Program of China (grant nos 2021YFE0107900 and 2021YFA1400300); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos 52025024 and 51872155); the Beijing Nature Science Foundation (grant no. Z200007); and the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Future Chip. L.L. acknowledges support from the Postdoctoral Innovative Talent Support Program. Y.D. acknowledges support by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Science, Early Career Research Program under award no. 68278. A portion of the research was performed using the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a US Department of Energy User Facility sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research and located at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory under contract no. DE-AC05-76RL01830. This research used the resources of the Beijing National Center for Electron Microscopy at Tsinghua University.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Li, L., Wang, M., Zhou, Y. et al. Manipulating the insulator–metal transition through tip-induced hydrogenation. Nat. Mater. 21, 1246–1251 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01373-4