In this work, multifunctional oxide NdNiO3 (NNO) thin films grown on a SrTiO3 (STO) substrate using pulsed-laser deposition are studied. Temperature dependent resistivity measurements revealed that NNO/STO samples exhibit a sharp thickness dependent metal-insulator transition (MIT) over a range of 150-200 K. It is known that the electronic properties of correlated oxides are extremely complex and sensitive to changes in orbital occupancy. To evaluate the changes in the electronic and/or crystallographic structure responsible for the MIT, a site-selective (O, Ni and Nd) X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) analysis is performed above and below the transition temperature. Analysis of XANES spectra suggests that: (i) in NNO films nominally trivalent Ni ions exhibit multiple valency (bond disproportionation), (ii) intermetallic hybridization plays an important role, (iii) the presence of strong O 2p-O 2p hole correlation at low temperature results in the opening of the p-p gap and (iv) the valency of Nd ions matches well with that of Nd3+. For NNO films exhibiting a sharp MIT, Ni 3d electron localization and concurrent existence of Ni 3d8 and Ni 3d8L2 states are responsible for the observed transition. At temperatures below the MIT the O 2p-O 2p hole correlation is strong enough to split the O 2p band stabilizing insulating phase. Temperature and thickness dependent differences observed in the site-selective XANES data are discussed in terms of possible mechanisms for the MIT (negative charge-transfer type).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)