Bandwidth-Control Orbital-Selective Delocalization of 4f Electrons in Epitaxial Ce Films


Author: Y Wu, Y Fang, P Li, Z Xiao, H Zheng, H Yuan, C Cao, Y Yang, Y Liu Nature Communications Logo  | © Nature Nature Communications
Date: 2021
Instruments: ARPES Lab, DA30-L, Lab10 MBE, VUV5k, Materials Innovation Platform (MIP)

The 4f-electron delocalization plays a key role in the low-temperature properties of rare-earth metals and intermetallics, and it is normally realized by the Kondo coupling between 4f and conduction electrons. Due to the large Coulomb repulsion of 4f electrons, the bandwidth-control Mott-type delocalization, commonly observed in d-electron systems, is difficult in 4f-electron systems and remains elusive in spectroscopic experiments. Here we demonstrate that the bandwidth-control orbital-selective delocalization of 4f electrons can be realized in epitaxial Ce films by thermal annealing, which results in a metastable surface phase with reduced layer spacing. The quasiparticle bands exhibit large dispersion with exclusive 4f character near Γ¯ and extend reasonably far below the Fermi energy, which can be explained from the Mott physics. The experimental quasiparticle dispersion agrees well with density-functional theory calculation and also exhibits unusual temperature dependence, which could arise from the delicate interplay between the bandwidth-control Mott physics and the coexisting Kondo hybridization. Our work opens up the opportunity to study the interaction between two well-known localization-delocalization mechanisms in correlation physics, i.e., Kondo vs Mott, which can be important for a fundamental understanding of 4f-electron systems.