Imaging the evolution of metallic states in a correlated iridate

Yoshinori Okada, Daniel Walkup, Hsin Lin, Chetan Dhital, Tay Rong Chang, Sovit Khadka, Wenwen Zhou, Horng Tay Jeng, Mandar Paranjape, Arun Bansil, Ziqiang Wang, Stephen D. Wilson, Vidya Madhavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The Ruddlesden-Popper series of iridates (Sr n+1 Ir n O 3n+1) have been the subject of much recent attention due to the anticipation of emergent phenomena arising from the cooperative action of spin-orbit-driven band splitting and Coulomb interactions. However, an ongoing debate over the role of correlations in the formation of the charge gap and a lack of understanding of the effects of doping on the low-energy electronic structure have hindered experimental progress in realizing many of the predicted states. Using scanning tunnelling spectroscopy we map out the spatially resolved density of states in Sr 3 Ir 2 O 7 (Ir327). We show that its parent compound, argued to exist only as a weakly correlated band insulator, in fact possesses a substantial ∼ 130 meV charge excitation gap driven by an interplay between structure, spin-orbit coupling and correlations. We find that single-atom defects are associated with a strong electronic inhomogeneity, creating an important distinction between the intrinsic and spatially averaged electronic structure. Combined with first-principles calculations, our measurements reveal how defects at specific atomic sites transfer spectral weight from higher energies to the gap energies, providing a possible route to obtaining metallic electronic states from the parent insulating states in the iridates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-713
Number of pages7
JournalNature Materials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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