Experimentelle Physik IV

    Florian Adler (PhD thesis): Electronic Correlations in Two-dimensional Triangular Adatom Lattices


    Two-dimensional triangular lattices of group IV adatoms on semiconductor substrates provide a rich playground for the investigation of Mott-Hubbard physics. The possibility to combine various types of adatoms and substrates makes members of this material class versatile model systems to study the influence of correlation strength, band filling and spin-orbit coupling on the electronic structure – both experimentally and with dedicated many-body calculation techniques. The latter predict exotic ground states such as chiral superconductivity or spin liquid behavior for these frustrated lattices, however, experimental confirmation is still lacking. In this work, three different systems, namely the alpha-phases of Sn/SiC(0001), Pb/Si(111), and potassium-doped Sn/Si(111) are investigated with scanning tunneling microscopy and photoemission spectroscopy in this regard. The results are potentially relevant for spintronic applications or quantum computing. For the novel group IV triangular lattice Sn/SiC(0001), a combined experimental and theoretical study reveals that the system features surprisingly strong electronic correlations because they are boosted by the substrate through its partly ionic character and weak screening capabilities. Interestingly, the spectral function, measured for the first time via angle-resolved photoemission, does not show any additional superstructure beyond the intrinsic Sqrt(3)×Sqrt(3)R30 reconstruction, thereby raising curiosity regarding the ground-state spin pattern. For Pb/Si(111), preceding studies have noted a phase transition of the surface reconstruction from Sqrt(3)×Sqrt(3)R30 to 3×3 at 86 K. In this thesis, investigations of the low-temperature phase with high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy unveil the formation of a charge-ordered ground state. It is disentangled from a concomitant structural rearrangement which is found to be 2-up/1-down, in contrast to previous predictions. Applying an extended variational cluster approach, a phase diagram of local and nonlocal Coulomb interactions is mapped out. Based on a comparison of theoretical spectral functions with scattering vectors found via quasiparticle interference, Pb/Si(111) is placed in said phase diagram and electronic correlations are found to be the driving force of the charge-ordered state.
    In order to realize a doped Mott insulator in a frustrated geometry, potassium was evaporated onto the well-known correlated Sn/Si(111) system. Instead of the expected insulator-to-metal transition, scanning tunneling spectroscopy data indicates that the electronic structure of Sn/Si(111) is only affected locally around potassium atoms while a metallization is suppressed. The potassium atoms were found to be adsorbed on empty T4 sites of the substrate which eventually leads to the formation of two types of K-Sn alloys with a relative potassium content of 1/3 and 1/2, respectively. Complementary measurements of the spectral function via angle-resolved photoemission reveal that the lower Hubbard band of Sn/Si(111) gradually changes its shape upon potassium deposition. Once the tin and potassium portion on the surface are equal, this evolution is complete and the system can be described as a band insulator without the need to include Coulomb interactions.