Journal Article Composition-induced structural, electrical, and magnetic phase transitions in AX-type mixed-valence cobalt oxynitride epitaxial thin films

Takahashi, Jumpei  ,  Hirose, Yasushi  ,  Oka, Daichi  ,  Nakao, Shoichiro  ,  Yang, Chang  ,  Fukumura, Tomoteru  ,  Harayama, Isao  ,  Sekiba, Daiichiro  ,  Hasegawa, Tetsuya

107 ( 23 )  , p.231906 , 2015-12 , Applied physics letters
Synthesis of mid- to late-transition metal oxynitrides is generally difficult by conventional thermal ammonolysis because of thermal instability. In this letter, we synthesized epitaxialthin films of AX-type phase-pure cobalt oxynitrides (CoOxNy) by using nitrogen-plasma-assisted pulsed laser deposition and investigated their structural, electrical, and magnetic properties. The CoOxNythin films with 0 ≤ y/(x + y) ≤ 0.63 grown on MgO (100) substrates showed a structuralphase transition from rock salt (RS) to zinc blend at the nitrogen content y/(x + y) ∼ 0.5. As the nitrogen content increased, the room-temperature electrical resistivity of the CoOxNythin films monotonically decreased from the order of 105 Ω cm to 10−4 Ω cm. Furthermore, we observed an insulator-to-metal transition at y/(x + y) ∼ 0.34 in the RS-CoOxNy phase, which has not yet been reported in Co2+/Co3+ mixed-valence cobalt oxides with octahedral coordination. The low resistivity in the RS-CoOxNy phase, on the 10−3 Ω cm order, may have originated from the intermediate spin state of Co3+ stabilized by the lowered crystal field symmetry of the CoO6−nNn octahedra (n = 1, 2,…5). Magnetization measurements suggested that a magnetic phase transition occurred in the RS-CoOxNyfilms during the insulator-to-metal transition. These results demonstrate that low-temperature epitaxialgrowth is a promising approach for exploring novel electronic functionalities in oxynitrides.

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