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Tunable emergent heterostructures in a prototypical correlated metal

At the interface between two distinct materials, desirable properties, such as superconductivity, can be greatly enhanced 1 , or entirely new functionalities may emerge 2 . Similar to in artificially engineered heterostructures, clean functional interfaces alternatively exist in electronically textured bulk materials. Electronic textures emerge spontaneously due to competing atomic-scale interactions 3 , the control of which would enable a top-down approach for designing tunable intrinsic heterostructures. This is particularly attractive for correlated electron materials, where spontaneous heterostructures strongly affect the interplay between charge and spin degrees of freedom 4 . Here we report high-resolution neutron spectroscopy on the prototypical strongly correlated metal CeRhIn5, revealing competition between magnetic frustration and easy-axis anisotropy—a well-established mechanism for generating spontaneous superstructures 5 . Because the observed easy-axis anisotropy is field-induced and anomalously large, it can be controlled efficiently with small magnetic fields. The resulting field-controlled magnetic superstructure is closely tied to the formation of superconducting 6 and electronic nematic textures 7 in CeRhIn5, suggesting that in situ tunable heterostructures can be realized in correlated electron materials.

Authors:   D. M. Fobes; S. Zhang; S.-Z. Lin; Pinaki Das; N. J. Ghimire; E. D. Bauer; J. D. Thompson; L. W. Harriger; G. Ehlers; A. Podlesnyak; R. I. Bewley; A. Sazonov; V. Hutanu; F. Ronning; C. D. Batista; M. Janoschek
Journal:   Nature Physics
Volume:   14
edition:   5
Year:   2018
Pages:   456
DOI:   10.1038/s41567-018-0060-9
Publication date:   26-Mar-2018
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • magnetic fields
  • interfaces
  • interactions
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