Microscopic Structure of the Metal-Insulator Transition in Two Dimensions

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Science  18 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5520, pp. 1354-1357
DOI: 10.1126/science.1058645

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A single electron transistor is used as a local electrostatic probe to study the underlying spatial structure of the metal-insulator transition in two dimensions. The measurements show that as we approach the transition from the metallic side, a new phase emerges that consists of weakly coupled fragments of the two-dimensional system. These fragments consist of localized charge that coexists with the surrounding metallic phase. As the density is lowered into the insulating phase, the number of fragments increases on account of the disappearing metallic phase. The measurements reveal that the metal-insulator transition is a result of the microscopic restructuring that occurs in the system.

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