Symmetry breaking and geometric confinement in VO2: Results from a three-dimensional infrared nano-imaging

Mengkun Liu, Martin Wagner, Jingdi Zhang, Alexander McLeod, Salinporn Kittiwatanakul, Zhe Fei, Elsa Abreu, Michael Goldflam, Aaron J. Sternbach, Siyuan Dai, Kevin G. West, Jiwei Lu, Stuart A. Wolf, Richard D. Averitt, D. N. Basov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epitaxial strain can play an important role in controlling the local phase dynamics of transition metal oxides. With scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy, we visualize the three dimensional landscape of phase inhomogeneity in strained VO2 films grown on [100]R TiO2 substrates. We demonstrate that three different symmetries are spontaneously broken in the vicinity of the VO2 phase transition: (1) Monoclinic-tetragonal (rutile) crystal symmetry breaking due to the structural phase transition, (2) in-plane (x-y plane) rotational symmetry breaking due to the formation of periodic strain domains, and (3) out-of-plane (z-axis) mirror symmetry breaking at the film cross-section due to substrate-induced epitaxial strain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121905
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 24 2014
Externally publishedYes


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