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Oxygen vacancies and hydrogen doping in LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructures: electronic properties and impact on surface and interface reconstruction


I I Piyanzina, V Eyert, Yu V Lysogorskiy, D A Tayurskii, and T Kopp

Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter

We investigate the effect of oxygen vacancies and hydrogen dopants at the surface and inside slabs of , , and / heterostructures on the electronic properties by means of electronic structure calculations as based on density functional theory. Depending on the concentration, the presence of these defects in a slab can suppress the surface conductivity. In contrast, in insulating slabs already very small concentrations of oxygen vacancies or hydrogen dopant atoms induce a finite occupation of the conduction band. Surface defects in insulating /heterostructure slabs with three overlayers lead to the emergence of interface conductivity. Calculated defect formation energies reveal strong preference of hydrogen dopant atoms for surface sites for all structures and concentrations considered. Strong decrease of the defect formation energy of hydrogen adatoms with increasing thickness of the overlayer and crossover from positive to negative values, taken together with the metallic conductivity induced by hydrogen adatoms, seamlessly explains the semiconductor-metal transition observed for these heterostructures as a function of the overlayer thickness. Moreover, we show that the potential drop and concomitant shift of (layer resolved) band edges is suppressed for the metallic configuration. Finally, magnetism with stable local moments, which form atomically thin magnetic layers at the interface, is generated by oxygen vacancies either at the surface or the interface, or by hydrogen atoms buried at the interface. In particular, oxygen vacancies in the interface layer cause drastic downshift of the 3d e g states of the Ti atoms neighboring the vacancies, giving rise to strongly localized magnetic moments, which add to the two-dimensional background magnetization.

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