The 4d transition metal perovskites Can+1RunO3n+1 have attracted interest for their strongly interacting electronic phases showing pronounced sensitivity to controllable stimuli like strain, temperature, and even electrical current. Through multi-messenger low-temperature nano-imaging, we reveal a spontaneous striped texture of coexisting insulating and metallic domains in single crystals of the bilayer ruthenate Ca3(TixRu1-x)2O7 across its first-order Mott transition at T≈ 95 K. We image on-demand anisotropic nucleation and growth of these domains under in situ applied uniaxial strain rationalized through control of a spontaneous Jahn-Teller distortion. Our scanning nano-susceptibility imaging resolves the detailed susceptibility of coexisting phases to strain and temperature at the transition threshold. Comparing these nano-imaging results to bulk-sensitive elastoresistance measurements, we uncover an emergent “domain susceptibility” sensitive to both the volumetric phase fractions and elasticity of the self-organized domain lattice. Our combined susceptibility probes afford nano-scale insights into strain-mediated control over the insulator-metal transition in 4d transition metal oxides.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Work on correlated oxides at Columbia was supported entirely by the Center on Precision-Assembled Quantum Materials, funded through the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (award no. DMR-2011738). D.N.B. is Moore Investigator in Quantum Materials EPIQS #9455. D.N.B. is the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow ONR-VB: N00014-19-1-2630. L.-Q.C., V.G. and Y.Y. acknowledge support from the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Award Number DE-SC-0012375 and the partial support from the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, under Award Number DE-SC0020145 as part of the Computational Materials Sciences Program. Z.Q.M. and V.G. acknowledge financial support for sample preparation provided by the National Science Foundation through the Penn State 2D Crystal Consortium-Materials Innovation Platform (2DCC-MIP) under NSF cooperative agreement DMR-1539916. Work on preparing strain devices was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research via grant FA9550-16-1-0601.
© 2021, The Author(s).