Performing an analysis within density functional theory, we develop insight into the structural and electronic properties of the oxide heterostructure LaAlO3/SrTiO3. Electrostatic surface effects are decomposed from the internal lattice distortion in order to clarify their interplay. We first study the interface relaxation by a multi-layer system without surface, and the surface effects, separately, by a substrate-film system. While elongation of the TiO6 octahedra at the interface enhances the metallicity, reduction of the film thickness has the opposite effect due to a growing charge depletion. The interplay of these two effects, as reflected by the full lattice relaxation in the substrate-film system, however, strongly depends on the film thickness. An inversion of the TiO6 distortion pattern for films thinner than four LaAlO3 layers results in an insulating state.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)