Defect-engineered epitaxial VO2±δ in strain engineering of heterogeneous soft crystals

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Science Advances  25 May 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 5, eaar3679
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3679

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The success of strain engineering has made a step further for the enhancement of material properties and the introduction of new physics, especially with the discovery of the critical roles of strain in the heterogeneous interface between two dissimilar materials (for example, FeSe/SrTiO3). On the other hand, the strain manipulation has been limited to chemical epitaxy and nanocomposites that, to a large extent, limit the possible material systems that can be explored. By defect engineering, we obtained, for the first time, dense three-dimensional strongly correlated VO2±δ epitaxial nanoforest arrays that can be used as a novel “substrate” for dynamic strain engineering, due to its metal-insulator transition. The highly dense nanoforest is promising for the possible realization of bulk strain similar to the effect of nanocomposites. By growing single-crystalline halide perovskite CsPbBr3, a mechanically soft and emerging semiconducting material, onto the VO2±δ, a heterogeneous interface is created that can entail a ~1% strain transfer upon the metal-insulator transition of VO2±δ. This strain is large enough to trigger a structural phase transition featured by PbX6 octahedral tilting along with a modification of the photoluminescence energy landscape in halide perovskite. Our findings suggest a promising strategy of dynamic strain engineering in a heterogeneous interface carrying soft and strain-sensitive semiconductors that can happen at a larger volumetric value surpassing the conventional critical thickness limit.

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