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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. The unconventional superconductivity in Sr 2 RuO 4 is infamously susceptible to suppression by small levels of disorder such that it has been most commonly studied in extremely high-purity bulk crystals. Here, we harness local structural and spectroscopic scanning transmission electron microscopy measurements in epitaxial thin films of Sr 2 RuO 4 to disentangle the impact of different types of crystalline disorder on superconductivity. We find that cation off-stoichiometry during growth gives rise to two distinct types of disorder: mixed-phase structural inclusions that accommodate excess ruthenium and ruthenium vacancies when the growth is ruthenium-deficient. Several superconducting films host mixed-phase intergrowths, suggesting this microstructural disorder has relatively little impact on superconductivity. In a non-superconducting film, on the other hand, we measure a high density of ruthenium-vacancies [Formula: see text] with no significant reduction in the crystallinity of the film. The results suggest that ruthenium vacancy disorder, which is hidden to many structural probes, plays an important role in suppressing superconductivity. We discuss the broader implications of our findings to guide the future synthesis of this and other layered systems.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
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  6. Tomographic spectroscopy reveals how the properties of topological materials can be engineered at interfaces.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 4, 2023
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023