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A deeper look at interfaces
Date:1/15/2014

n two waves of identical wavelength interfere with one another: one is the incident x-ray and the other is the x-ray reflected by a mirror. Interactions between standing waves and core-level electrons reveal much about the properties of each atomic species in a sample. ARPES from the outer valence levels is the long-standing spectroscopic workhorse for the study of electronic structure. X-rays striking a material surface or interface cause the photoemission of electrons at angles and kinetic energies that can be measured to obtain detailed electronic energy levels of the sample. While an extremely powerful tool, ARPES, a soft x-ray technique, is primarily limited to the study of near-surface atoms. It's harder x-ray cousin, HARPES, makes use of more energetic x-rays to effectively probe subsurface interfaces, but the addition of the standing wave capability provides a much desired depth selectivity.

"The standing wave can be moved up and down in a sample simply by rocking the angle of incidence around the Bragg angle of the mirror," says Alexander Gray, a former member of Fadley's UC Davis research group and affiliate with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division, who is now a postdoctoral associate at Stanford/SLAC. "Observing an interface between a ferromagnetic conductor (lanthanum strontium manganite) and an insulator (strontium titanate), which constitute a magnetic tunnel junction used in spintronic logic circuits, we've shown that changes in the electronic structure can be reliably measured, and that these changes are semi-quantitatively predicted by theory at several levels. Our results point to a much wider use of SWARPES in the future for studying the electronic properties of buried interfaces of many different kinds."


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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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