Layered oxide materials exhibit an intriguing interplay between spin, charge, and orbital degrees of freedom. Notably the properties of cuprates can be tuned by meticulous doping and structural control to an exotic superconducting state, or an antiferromagnetic insulator. Such phenomena are of strong current interest for the development of functional complex systems and low-dimensional nanostructures. The detailed understanding and tuning of the interface properties is of paramount importance to master such novel quantum materials.
Here we combine expertise in material physics with nanoscale science to comprehensively characterize and engineer the intricate surfaces of transition metal oxides in an interdisciplinary approach. Both space-averaging techniques and atomic resolution scanning tunneling microscopy are employed to directly explore their electronic properties. We address the prominent role of topological or chemical impurities at the nanoscale by tunneling spectroscopy, and then seek to deliberately modify the interfaces electronic nature through the in situ deposition of atoms and functional molecules.