Light control of the nanoscale phase separation in heteroepitaxial nickelates

Giordano Mattoni, Nicola Manca, M. Hadjimichael, P. Zubko, J.H. van der Torren, C. Yin, S. Catalano, M. Gibert, F. Maccherozzi, Y. Liu, S.S. Dhesi, Andrea Caviglia

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Strongly correlated materials show unique solid-state phase transitions with rich nanoscale phenomenology that can be controlled by external stimuli. Particularly interesting is the case of light–matter interaction in the proximity of the metal–insulator transition of heteroepitaxial nickelates. In this work, we use near-infrared laser light in the high-intensity excitation regime to manipulate the nanoscale phase separation in NdNiO3. By tuning the laser intensity, we can reproducibly set the coverage of insulating nanodomains, which we image by photoemission electron microscopy, thus semipermanently configuring the material state. With the aid of transport measurements and finite element simulations, we identify two different timescales of thermal dynamics in the light–matter interaction: a steady-state and a fast transient local heating. These results open interesting perspectives for locally manipulating and reconfiguring electronic order at the nanoscale by optical means.
Original languageEnglish
Article number085002
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Materials
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Conductivity
  • Critical phenomena
  • First order phase transitions
  • Metal-insulator transition
  • Microphase separation
  • Nucleation
  • ConductivityCritical phenomenaFirst order phase transitionsMetal-insulator transitionMicrophase separation
  • Heterostructures
  • Single crystal materials
  • Strongly correlated systems
  • terminal techniques
  • High-resolution electron microscopy
  • Photoexcitation
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy
  • X-ray photoemission electron microscopy


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