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Nanoscale magnetic and thermal imaging of strongly correlated electronic materials

Project description

Advanced scanning technology sheds more light on strongly correlated materials

The microscopic observation of strongly correlated electronic materials is critical to understanding the mechanisms of electronic structures and the reasons for their lack of homogeneity and broken symmetry. Although local magnetic probes can be used to resolve magnetic order and probe local superconducting phase fluctuation, the majority do not meet resolution requirements. Thermal microscopy, on the other hand, enables the study of dissipation mechanisms in high Tc superconductors, but it cannot be carried out at low temperatures. By combining magnetic and thermal imaging techniques, the EU-funded STRONG project intends to expand and improve the capabilities of a novel technology: a scanning superconducting quantum interference device microscope, which is mounted on a nanometric tip. This innovation will provide insight into the phenomena that occur in strongly correlated materials.


Strongly correlated electronic materials have phase diagrams that are intrinsically complex. Multiple, distinct, broken symmetry phases can occur simultaneously and the presence of these intertwined orders gives rise to spontaneously inhomogeneous electronic structures. Observing and characterizing these patterns is crucial to understanding the mechanisms that govern these electronic states. I propose to study these phases using a novel scanning SQUID microscope with single electron spin sensitivity and thermal sensitivity better than one millionth of a degree. The SQUID is mounted on a nanometric tip and has ~50 nm resolution. I will expand the experimental capabilities of this technique by improving the resolution to a few nm, and by enabling near field microwave microscopy.
Local magnetic probes are ideal for spatially resolving magnetic order and can also be used to probe local superconducting phase fluctuation since they generate local currents and thus local magnetic fields. However, the required resolution is of the order of a few nm, which is far beyond the capabilities of most local magnetic probes. While thermal microscopy provides information about dissipation mechanisms, which is relevant in high Tc superconductors (HTSC) above Tc where superconducting correlations are locally present, there is no technique that can perform thermal microscopy at low temperatures. The SQUID-on-tip will allow us to look at all the above-mentioned aspects. We propose to look at three types of systems (1) Observe local signatures of pair-density waves and other manifestations of broken time reversal symmetry in HTSC (2) Characterize the unconventional superconducting phase at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface (3) Study the inhomogeneous magnetic phases at the LaMnO3/SrTiO3 interface. These measurements will provide significant contributions to the understanding of phenomena in strongly correlated materials such as superconductivity and its relation to other electronic order.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 997 926,00
91904 Jerusalem

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 997 926,00

Beneficiaries (1)