Metallic states appearing at interfaces between dissimilar insulating oxides exhibit intriguing phenomena such as superconductivity and magnetism. Despite tremendous progress in understanding their origins, very little is known about how to control the conduction pathways and the distribution of charge carriers. Using optical spectroscopic measurements and density-functional theory (DFT) simulations, we examine the effect of SrTiO3 (STO) spacer layer thickness on the optical transparency and carrier distribution in La δ-doped STO superlattices. We experimentally observe that these metallic superlattices remain highly transparent to visible light; a direct consequence of the appropriately large gap between the O 2p and Ti 3d states. In superlattices with relatively thin STO layers, we predict that three-dimensional conduction would occur due to appreciable overlap of quantum mechanical wavefunctions between neighboring δ-doped layers. These results highlight the potential for using oxide heterostructures in optoelectronic devices by providing a unique route for creating novel transparent conducting oxides.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 4, article number: 6021.

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