Evidence for a percolative Mott insulator-metal transition in doped Sr2IrO4
Despite many efforts to rationalize the strongly correlated electronic ground states in doped Mott insulators, the nature of the doping-induced insulator-to-metal transition is still a subject under intensive investigation. Here, we probe the nanoscale electronic structure of the Mott insulator Sr2IrO4−δ with low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy and find an enhanced local density of states (LDOS) inside the Mott gap at the location of individual defects which we interpret as defects at apical oxygen sites. A chiral behavior in the topography for those defects has been observed. We also visualize the local enhanced conductance arising from the overlapping of defect states which induces finite LDOS inside of the Mott gap. By combining these findings with the typical spatial extension of isolated defects of about 2 nm, our results indicate that the insulator-to-metal transition in Sr2IrO4−δ could be percolative in nature.