Anderson localization of electrons in single crystals: LixFe7Se8

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Science Advances  19 Feb 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 2, e1501283
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501283


Anderson (disorder-induced) localization, proposed more than half a century ago, has inspired numerous efforts to explore the absence of wave diffusions in disordered media. However, the proposed disorder-induced metal-insulator transition (MIT), associated with the nonpropagative electron waves, has hardly been observed in three-dimensional (3D) crystalline materials, let alone single crystals. We report the observation of an MIT in centimeter-size single crystals of LixFe7Se8 induced by lattice disorder. Both specific heat and infrared reflectance measurements reveal the presence of considerable electronic states in the vicinity of the Fermi level when the MIT occurs, suggesting that the transition is not due to Coulomb repulsion mechanism. The 3D variable range hopping regime evidenced by electrical transport measurements at low temperatures indicates the localized nature of the electronic states on the Fermi level. Quantitative analyses of carrier concentration, carrier mobility, and simulated density of states (DOS) fully support that LixFe7Se8 is an Anderson insulator. On the basis of these results, we provide a unified DOS picture to explain all the experimental results, and a schematic diagram for finding other potential Anderson insulators. This material will thus serve as a rich playground for both theoretical and experimental investigations on MITs and disorder-induced phenomena.

  • anderson localization
  • disorder
  • metal-insulator transition
  • variable range hopping
  • single crystal
  • electron localization.

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