Orbital Physics in Transition-Metal Oxides

Science  21 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5465, pp. 462-468
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5465.462

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An electron in a solid, that is, bound to or nearly localized on the specific atomic site, has three attributes: charge, spin, and orbital. The orbital represents the shape of the electron cloud in solid. In transition-metal oxides with anisotropic-shaped d-orbital electrons, the Coulomb interaction between the electrons (strong electron correlation effect) is of importance for understanding their metal-insulator transitions and properties such as high-temperature superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance. The orbital degree of freedom occasionally plays an important role in these phenomena, and its correlation and/or order-disorder transition causes a variety of phenomena through strong coupling with charge, spin, and lattice dynamics. An overview is given here on this “orbital physics,” which will be a key concept for the science and technology of correlated electrons.

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