Graphene-based moiré systems have attracted considerable interest in recent years as they display a remarkable variety of correlated phenomena. Besides insulating and superconducting phases in the vicinity of integer fillings of the moiré unit cell, there is growing evidence for electronic nematic order both in twisted bilayer graphene and twisted double-bilayer graphene (tDBG), as signaled by the spontaneous breaking of the threefold rotational symmetry of the moiré superlattices. Here, we combine symmetry-based analysis with a microscopic continuum model to investigate the structure of the nematic phase of tDBG and its experimental manifestations. First, we perform a detailed comparison between the theoretically calculated local density of states and recent scanning tunneling microscopy data (arXiv:2009.11645) to resolve the internal structure of the nematic order parameter in terms of the layer, sublattice, spin, and valley degrees of freedom. We find strong evidence that the dominant contribution to the nematic order parameter comes from states at the moiré scale rather than at the microscopic scale of the individual graphene layers, which demonstrates the key role played by the moiré degrees of freedom and confirms the correlated nature of the nematic phase in tDBG. Secondly, our analysis reveals an unprecedented tunability of the orientation of the nematic director in tDBG by an externally applied electric field, allowing the director to rotate away from high-symmetry crystalline directions. We compute the expected fingerprints of this rotation in both STM and transport experiments, providing feasible ways to probe it. Rooted in the strong sensitivity of the flat bands of tDBG to the displacement field, this effect opens an interesting route to the electrostatic control of electronic nematicity in moiré systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank D Kennes, L Klebl, H Ochoa, and A Rubio for fruitful discussions. RS acknowledges support from Subir Sachdev under the National Science Foundation Grant No. DMR-2002850. C R V acknowledges support from the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 844271. A N P and S T were supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) via Grant No. FA9550-16-1-0601. R M F was supported by the U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division, under Award No. DE-SC0020045.
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- Moiré superlattice systems
- Scanning tunneling microscopy
- Twisted double-bilayer graphene