Research progress on electronic phase separation in low-dimensional perovskite manganite nanostructures
National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures, School of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:325 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-325Published: 28 June 2014
Perovskite oxide manganites with a general formula of R1-xAxMnO3 (where R is a trivalent rare-earth element such as La, Pr, Sm, and A is a divalent alkaline-earth element such as Ca, Sr, and Ba) have received much attention due to their unusual electron-transport and magnetic properties, which are indispensable for applications in microelectronic, magnetic, and spintronic devices. Recent advances in the science and technology have resulted in the feature sizes of microelectronic devices based on perovskite manganite oxides down-scaling into nanoscale dimensions. At the nanoscale, low-dimensional perovskite manganite oxide nanostructures display novel physical properties that are different from their bulk and film counterparts. Recently, there is strong experimental evidence to indicate that the low-dimensional perovskite manganite oxide nanostructures are electronically inhomogeneous, consisting of different spatial regions with different electronic orders, a phenomenon that is named as electronic phase separation (EPS). As the geometry sizes of the low-dimensional manganite nanostructures are reduced to the characteristic EPS length scale (typically several tens of nanometers in manganites), the EPS is expected to be strongly modulated, leading to quite dramatic changes in functionality and more emergent phenomena. Therefore, reduced dimensionality opens a door to the new functionalities in perovskite manganite oxides and offers a way to gain new insight into the nature of EPS. During the past few years, much progress has been made in understanding the physical nature of the EPS in low-dimensional perovskite manganite nanostructures both from experimentalists and theorists, which have a profound impact on the oxide nanoelectronics. This nanoreview covers the research progresses of the EPS in low-dimensional perovskite manganite nanostructures such as nanoparticles, nanowires/nanotubes, and nanostructured films and/or patterns. The possible physical origins of the EPS are also discussed from the signatures of electronic inhomogeneities as well as some theoretical scenarios, to shed light on understanding this phenomenon. Finally, the perspectives to the future researches in this area are also outlined.