Metal–insulator-transition engineering by modulation tilt-control in perovskite nickelates for room temperature optical switching

Zhaoliang Liao* (Corresponding Author), Nicolas Gauquelin, Robert J. Green, Knut Müller-Caspary, Ivan Lobato, Lin Li, Sandra Van Aert, Johan Verbeeck, Mark Huijben, Mathieu N. Grisolia, Victor Rouco, Ralph El Hage, Javier E. Villegas, Alain Mercy, Manuel Bibes, Philippe Ghosez, George A. Sawatzky, Guus Rijnders, Gertjan Koster (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


In transition metal perovskites ABO3, the physical properties are largely driven by the rotations of the BO6 octahedra, which can be tuned in thin films through strain and dimensionality control. However, both approaches have fundamental and practical limitations due to discrete and indirect variations in bond angles, bond lengths, and film symmetry by using commercially available substrates. Here, we introduce modulation tilt control as an approach to tune the ground state of perovskite oxide thin films by acting explicitly on the oxygen octahedra rotation modes—that is, directly on the bond angles. By intercalating the prototype SmNiO3 target material with a tilt-control layer, we cause the system to change the natural amplitude of a given rotation mode without affecting the interactions. In contrast to strain and dimensionality engineering, our method enables a continuous fine-tuning of the materials’ properties. This is achieved through two independent adjustable parameters: the nature of the tilt-control material (through its symmetry, elastic constants, and oxygen rotation angles), and the relative thicknesses of the target and tilt-control materials. As a result, a magnetic and electronic phase diagram can be obtained, normally only accessible by A-site element substitution, within the single SmNiO3 compound. With this unique approach, we successfully adjusted the metal–insulator transition (MIT) to room temperature to fulfill the desired conditions for optical switching applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9515-9520
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2018


  • Heterostructure
  • Metal–insulator transition
  • Octahedral rotation
  • Structural modulation
  • Transition metal oxide


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