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Mott Transition in VO2 Revealed by Infrared Spectroscopy and Nano-Imaging

Science  14 Dec 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5857, pp. 1750-1753
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150124

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Abstract

Electrons in correlated insulators are prevented from conducting by Coulomb repulsion between them. When an insulator-to-metal transition is induced in a correlated insulator by doping or heating, the resulting conducting state can be radically different from that characterized by free electrons in conventional metals. We report on the electronic properties of a prototypical correlated insulator vanadium dioxide in which the metallic state can be induced by increasing temperature. Scanning near-field infrared microscopy allows us to directly image nanoscale metallic puddles that appear at the onset of the insulator-to-metal transition. In combination with far-field infrared spectroscopy, the data reveal the Mott transition with divergent quasi-particle mass in the metallic puddles. The experimental approach used sets the stage for investigations of charge dynamics on the nanoscale in other inhomogeneous correlated electron systems.

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