New quantum switch turns metals into insulators

EurekAlert  February 3, 2020 In a Mott insulator free flow of electrons is facilitated by reducing the strength of the repulsive interaction between electrons, or by changing the number of electrons. An international team of researchers (Canada, Germany, Switzerland, USA – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Ohio State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, South Korea) explored a way to alter the very quantum nature of the material to enable a metal-insulator transition to occur. They found that in Sr2IrO4 coupling the spin to the orbital angular momentum slows the electrons down to such an extent that they become sensitive to one […]