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Physics  2014 

Gaps and pseudo-gaps at the Mott quantum Critical point in the perovskite rare earth nickelates

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We report on tunneling measurements that reveal for the first time the evolution of the quasi-particle state density across the bandwidth controlled Mott metal to insulator transition in the rare earth perovskite nickelates. In this, a canonical class of transition metal oxides, we study in particular two materials close to the T=0 metal-insulator transition: NdNiO3 , an antiferromagnetic insulator, and LaNiO3, a correlated metal. We measure a sharp gap in NdNiO3, which has an insulating ground state, of ~ 30 meV. Remarkably, metallic LaNiO3 exhibits a pseudogap of the same order that presages the metal insulator transition. The smallness of both the gap and pseudogap suggests they arise from a common origin: proximity to a quantum critical point at or near the T=0 metal-insulator transition. It also supports theoretical models of the quantum phase transition in terms of spin and charge instabilities of an itinerant Fermi surface.


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