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  1. Abstract Compelling evidence suggests distinct correlated electron behavior may exist only in clean 2D materials such as 1T-TaS 2 . Unfortunately, experiment and theory suggest that extrinsic disorder in free standing 2D layers disrupts correlation-driven quantum behavior. Here we demonstrate a route to realizing fragile 2D quantum states through endotaxial polytype engineering of van der Waals materials. The true isolation of 2D charge density waves (CDWs) between metallic layers stabilizes commensurate long-range order and lifts the coupling between neighboring CDW layers to restore mirror symmetries via interlayer CDW twinning. The twinned-commensurate charge density wave (tC-CDW) reported herein has a single metal–insulator phase transition at ~350 K as measured structurally and electronically. Fast in-situ transmission electron microscopy and scanned nanobeam diffraction map the formation of tC-CDWs. This work introduces endotaxial polytype engineering of van der Waals materials to access latent 2D ground states distinct from conventional 2D fabrication.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. As a real-space technique, atomic-resolution STEM imaging contains both amplitude and geometric phase information about structural order in materials, with the latter encoding important information about local variations and heterogeneities present in crystalline lattices. Such phase information can be extracted using geometric phase analysis (GPA), a method which has generally focused on spatially mapping elastic strain. Here we demonstrate an alternative phase demodulation technique and its application to reveal complex structural phenomena in correlated quantum materials. As with other methods of image phase analysis, the phase lock-in approach can be implemented to extract detailed information about structural order and disorder, including dislocations and compound defects in crystals. Extending the application of this phase analysis to Fourier components that encode periodic modulations of the crystalline lattice, such as superlattice or secondary frequency peaks, we extract the behavior of multiple distinct order parameters within the same image, yielding insights into not only the crystalline heterogeneity but also subtle emergent order parameters such as antipolar displacements. When applied to atomic-resolution images spanning large (~0.5 × 0.5 μ m 2 ) fields of view, this approach enables vivid visualizations of the spatial interplay between various structural orders in novel materials.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  4. Abstract

    The self-organization of strongly interacting electrons into superlattice structures underlies the properties of many quantum materials. How these electrons arrange within the superlattice dictates what symmetries are broken and what ground states are stabilized. Here we show that cryogenic scanning transmission electron microscopy (cryo-STEM) enables direct mapping of local symmetries and order at the intra-unit-cell level in the model charge-ordered system Nd1/2Sr1/2MnO3. In addition to imaging the prototypical site-centered charge order, we discover the nanoscale coexistence of an exotic intermediate state which mixes site and bond order and breaks inversion symmetry. We further show that nonlinear coupling of distinct lattice modes controls the selection between competing ground states. The results demonstrate the importance of lattice coupling for understanding and manipulating the character of electronic self-organization and that cryo-STEM can reveal local order in strongly correlated systems at the atomic scale.

  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023