Graded Orbital Occupation near Interfaces in a La2NiO4 - La2CuO4 Superlattice

Research paper by S. Smadici, J. C. T. Lee, J. Morales, G. Logvenov, O. Pelleg, I. Bozovic, Y. Zhu, P. Abbamonte

Indexed on: 11 Nov '11Published on: 11 Nov '11Published in: Physics - Strongly Correlated Electrons


X-ray absorption spectroscopy and resonant soft x-ray reflectivity show a non-uniform distribution of oxygen holes in a La2NiO4 - La2CuO4 (LNO-LCO) superlattice, with excess holes concentrated in the LNO layers. Weak ferromagnetism with Tc = 160 K suggests a coordinated tilting of NiO6 octahedra, similar to that of bulk LNO. Ni d3z2-r2 orbitals within the LNO layers have a spatially variable occupation. This variation of the Ni valence near LNO-LCO interfaces is observed with resonant soft x-ray reflectivity at the Ni L edge, at a reflection suppressed by the symmetry of the structure, and is possible through graded doping with holes, due to oxygen interstitials taken up preferentially by inner LNO layers. Since the density of oxygen atoms in the structure can be smoothly varied with standard procedures, this orbital occupation, robust up to at least 280 K, is tunable.