Multi-messenger nanoprobes of hidden magnetism in a strained manganite

A. S. McLeod*, Jingdi Zhang, M. Q. Gu, F. Jin, G. Zhang, K. W. Post, X. G. Zhao, A. J. Millis, W. B. Wu, J. M. Rondinelli, R. D. Averitt, D. N. Basov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The ground-state properties of correlated electron systems can be extraordinarily sensitive to external stimuli, offering abundant platforms for functional materials. Using the multi-messenger combination of atomic force microscopy, cryogenic scanning near-field optical microscopy, magnetic force microscopy and ultrafast laser excitation, we demonstrate both ‘writing’ and ‘erasing’ of a metastable ferromagnetic metal phase in strained films of La2/3Ca1/3MnO3 (LCMO) with nanometre-resolved finesse. By tracking both optical conductivity and magnetism at the nanoscale, we reveal how strain-coupling underlies the dynamic growth, spontaneous nanotexture and first-order melting transition of this hidden photoinduced metal. Our first-principles calculations reveal that epitaxially engineered Jahn–Teller distortion can stabilize nearly degenerate antiferromagnetic insulator and ferromagnetic metal phases. We propose a Ginzburg–Landau description to rationalize the co-active interplay of strain, lattice distortions and magnetism nano-resolved here in strained LCMO, thus guiding future functional engineering of epitaxial oxides into the regime of phase-programmable materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-404
Number of pages8
JournalNature materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


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