Theses Doctoral

Temperature Driven Topological Switch in 1T’-MoTe2 and Strain Induced Nematicity in NaFeAs

Berger, Ayelet

Quasiparticle interference (QPI) is a powerful technique within Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) that is used to probe the electronic bandstructure of materials. This thesis presents two examples using QPI to measure the bandstructure in materials with exotic electronic states that can be tuned via outside parameters (temperature and strain). In Part I of the thesis, we discuss the temperature dependence of Fermi Arcs in 1T’-MoTe2, and then in Part II, the strain dependent nematic state in NaFeAs. The recent discovery of Weyl semimetals has introduced a new family of materials with topologically protected electronic properties and potential applications due to their anomalous transport effects. Even more useful is a Weyl semimetal that can be turned “on” and “off,” switching between a topological and trivial state. One possible material is MoTe2, which undergoes a phase transition at 240K. This thesis consists of experiments using Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and Spectroscopy (STS) at different temperatures to visualize changes in the electronic bandstructure of MoTe2 across the topological phase transition. We show that a signature of topologically protected Fermi Arcs is present at low temperatures but disappears at room temperature, in the trivial phase. We include an in-depth discussion of how to account for thermal effects when comparing these two types of measurements. In Part II, we discuss strain induced nematicity in NaFeAs, an iron pnictide. Nematic fluctuations and spin correlations play an important role in the phase diagram of the iron pnictides, a family of unconventional superconductors. Illuminating the mechanism behind this symmetry breaking is key to understanding the superconducting state. Previous work has shown that nematicity in the iron pnictides responds strongly to applied strain [1, 2]. In this thesis, I present results from a new experimental technique, elasto-scanning tunneling microscopy (E-STM), which combines in situ strain and atomic resolution STM/STS. For the first time, we are able to observe the effects of strain on nematicity at the local level. We perform E-STM measurements in both the spin density wave phase and the tetragonal phase of NaFeAs and measure a distinct response in each. We successfully use strain to manipulate domain boundaries in the spin density wave state and we find the intensity of nematic fluctuations is coupled to strain in NaFeAs in the tetragonal phase.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Materials Science and Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Pasupathy, Abhay N.
Barmak, Katayun
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 19, 2018