A spin–orbit coupling-induced two-dimensional electron gas in BiAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructures
Both LaAlO3 and BiAlO3 are isostructural, isoelectronic and band insulators. Therefore, in analogy to the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructure, a quasi two dimensional electron gas (q-2DEG) could be anticipated in BiAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructures. Our density functional theory based scalar relativistic calculations show that BiAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructures remain insulating for a BiAlO3 film thickness up to 5 unit cells. However, with spin orbit coupling included in the crystal Hamiltonian, we find a thickness dependent insulator to metal transition for BiAlO3/SrTiO3 heterostructures. However, unlike the Ti3+/Ti4+ electronic reconstruction in LaAlO3/SrTiO3, the conductivity in BiAlO3/SrTiO3 is found to originate from the subsurface Bi 6p states. The results suggest that the properties of q-2DEG in BiAlO3/SrTiO3 can be controlled using an external electric field, leading to a wide range of solid state applications.