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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Emergent electric field control of phase transformation in oxide superlattices.


Electric fields can transform materials with respect to their structure and properties, enabling various applications ranging from batteries to spintronics. Recently electrolytic gating, which can generate large electric fields and voltage-driven ion transfer, has been identified as a powerful means to achieve electric-field-controlled phase transformations. The class of transition metal oxides provide many potential candidates that present a strong response under electrolytic gating. However, very few show a reversible structural transformation at room-temperature. Here, we report the realization of a digitally synthesized transition metal oxide that shows a reversible, electric-field-controlled transformation between distinct crystalline phases at room-temperature. In superlattices comprised of alternating one-unit-cell of SrIrO3 and La0.2Sr0.8MnO3, we find a reversible phase transformation with a 7% lattice change and dramatic modulation in chemical, electronic, magnetic and optical properties, mediated by the reversible transfer of oxygen and hydrogen ions. Strikingly, this phase transformation is absent in the constituent oxides, solid solutions and larger period superlattices. Our findings open up this class of materials for voltage-controlled functionality.

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