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Perovskite Nickelates as Electric-Field Sensors in Salt Water



Zhen Zhang, Derek Schwanz, Badri Narayanan, Michele Kotiuga, Joseph Dura, Mathew Cherukara, Hua Zhou, John W. Freeland, Jiarui Li, Ronny Sutarto, Feizhou He, Chongzhao Wu, Jiaxin Zhu, Yifei Sun, Koushik Ramadoss, Stephen S. Nonnenmann, Nanfang Yu, Riccardo Comin, Karin M. Rabe, Subramanian K.R.S. Sankaranarayanan, Shriram Ramanathan


Although oceans comprise over seventy percent of our planet, they are among the least understood ecosystems. Complex three-dimensional marine environments hold important clues into long term effects of climate change, evolutionary consequences, and animal adaptations. A grand challenge in exploring the vast oceans is the lack of sensors to sample the local environment. State-of-the-art probes include the Argo floats that measure salinity and temperature at various depths by controlling their buoyancy. Sensors that are stable in water, respond to their environment and gather information on local chemical and physical signatures, can revolutionize oceanography. Here, we report the discovery of electric-field-driven water-mediated phase transition in a prototypical quantum material, SmNiO3 that is accompanied by several orders of magnitude increase in electrical resistivity and visual transparency. The change in electrical resistance is due to electron localization arising from proton injection, which directly mimics the Ampullae of Lorenzini, an electroreceptor organ found in elasmobranch species such as sharks. The microscopic processes leading to these remarkable changes under water are elucidated using combination of synchrotron X-ray and neutron spectroscopy, heave water isotope exchange studies, optical probing in water-transparent spectral regions, and first principles calculations. Our results forge a new direction to explore the use of quantum materials as water-submersible sensors and in a broader setting, design interfaces that posses function in harsh environments.


Neutron Reflectometry, hydrogen, perovskite, electric field sensor, valence change, strongly correlated electron systems


Zhang, Z. , Schwanz, D. , Narayanan, B. , Kotiuga, M. , Dura, J. , Cherukara, M. , Zhou, H. , Freeland, J. , Li, J. , Sutarto, R. , He, F. , Wu, C. , Zhu, J. , Sun, Y. , Ramadoss, K. , Nonnenmann, S. , Yu, N. , Comin, R. , Rabe, K. , Sankaranarayanan, S. and Ramanathan, S. (2018), Perovskite Nickelates as Electric-Field Sensors in Salt Water, Nature, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created January 3, 2018, Updated October 12, 2021