Complex Oxides for Achieving Novel Materials and Devices
Structurally and chemically complex oxides are one of the most promising classes of materials to realize new phenomena with direct technological implications—but there’s a lot left to learn. Lena F. Kourkoutis, Applied and Engineering Physics, is advancing fundamental understanding of these materials and the origin of emergent properties within them, such as high-temperature superconductivity, metal-insulator transitions, and colossal magnetoresistance. In collaboration with some of the leading complex oxide materials scientists and physicists, Kourkoutis will help to design strategies to control emergent properties and to engineer novel, technologically relevant materials and devices.
Kourkoutis and her team approach the materials with new imaging techniques. They are developing analytical cryo-scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) that will enable atomic-resolution imaging and spectroscopy inside nanostructured materials and devices at low temperatures. Operating at cryogenic temperatures allows them to access a new range of emergent electronic states and phases in artificially engineered materials and strongly correlated systems. Cryo-STEM, in combination with electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), will allow them to measure composition, bonding, and electronic structure at atomic resolution, together with the precise atomic nuclear coordinates of phases that have not been accessible before. More specifically, Kourkoutis is directly measuring charge-ordering and local structural distortions that can drive changes in the macroscopic properties of the system. The ability to correlate electronic and lattice arrangements is critical, as most of the emergent states rely on electron-lattice couplings.