At interfaces between insulating oxides LaAlO3 and SrTiO3, a two dimensional electron gas (2DEG) has been observed and well studied, while the predicted hole gas (2DHG) has not been realized due to the strong tendency of holes in oxygen 2p orbitals to localize. Here we propose, via ab initio calculations, an unexplored class of materials for the realization of parallel two dimensional (2D), two carrier (electron+hole) gases: nitride-oxide heterostructures, with (111)-oriented ScN and MgO as the specific example. Beyond a critical thickness of five ScN layers, this interface hosts spatially separated conducting Sc-3d electrons and N-2p holes, each confined to ∼ two atomic layers - the transition metal nitride provides both gases. A guiding concept is that the N3- anion should promote robust two carrier 2D hole conduction compared to that of O2-; metal mononitrides are mostly metallic and even superconducting while most metal monoxides are insulating. A second positive factor is that the density of transition metal ions, hence of a resulting 2DG, is about three times larger for a rocksalt (111) interface than for a perovskite (001) interface. Our results, including calculation of Hall coefficient and thermopower for each conducting layer separately, provide guidance for new exploration, both experimental and theoretical, on nitride-based conducting gases that should promote study of long sought exotic states viz. new excitonic phases and distinct, nanoscale parallel superconducting nanolayers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics