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Stimulated by experimental advances in electrolyte gating methods, we investigate theoretically percolation in thin films of inhomogeneous complex oxides, such as La1-xSrxCoO3 (LSCO), induced by a combination of bulk chemical and surface electrostatic doping. Using numerical and analytical methods, we identify two mechanisms that describe how bulk dopants reduce the amount of electrostatic surface charge required to reach percolation: (i) bulk-assisted surface percolation and (ii) surface-assisted bulk percolation. We show that the critical surface charge strongly depends on the film thickness when the film is close to the chemical percolation threshold. In particular, thin films can be driven across the percolation transition by modest surface charge densities. If percolation is associated with the onset of ferromagnetism, as in LSCO, we further demonstrate that the presence of critical magnetic clusters extending from the film surface into the bulk results in considerable enhancement of the saturation magnetization, with pronounced experimental consequences. These results should significantly guide experimental work seeking to verify gate-induced percolation transitions in such materials.
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© 2017 American Physical Society.
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PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
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