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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering