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Lesne, E.; Reyren, N.; Doennig, D.; Mattana, R.; Jaffres, H.; Cros, V.; Petroff, F.; Choueikani, F.; Ohresser, P.; Pentcheva, R.; Barthélémy, A. and Bibes, M. (2014): Suppression of the critical thickness threshold for conductivity at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 5, 4291 [PDF, 849kB]


Perovskite materials engineered in epitaxial heterostructures have been intensely investigated during the last decade. The interface formed by an LaAlO3 thin film grown on top of a TiO2-terminated SrTiO3 substrate hosts a two-dimensional electronic system and has become the prototypical example of this field. Although controversy exists regarding some of its physical properties and their precise origin, it is universally found that conductivity only appears beyond an LaAlO3 thickness threshold of four unit cells. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that this critical thickness can be reduced to just one unit cell when a metallic film of cobalt is deposited on top of LaAlO3. First-principles calculations indicate that Co modifies the electrostatic boundary conditions and induces a charge transfer towards the Ti 3d bands, supporting the electrostatic origin of the electronic system at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface. Our results expand the interest of this low-dimensional oxide system from in-plane to perpendicular transport and to the exploration of elastic and inelastic tunnel-type transport of (spin-polarized) carriers.

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