Soft x-ray absorption spectroscopy and magnetic circular dichroism as operando probes of complex oxide electrolyte gate transistors
Electrolyte-based transistors utilizing ionic liquids/gels have been highly successful in the study of charge-density-controlled phenomena, particularly in oxides. Experimental probes beyond transport have played a significant role, despite challenges in their application in electric double-layer transistors. Here, we demonstrate the application of synchrotron soft x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) as operando probes of the charge state and magnetism in ion-gel-gated ferromagnetic perovskite films. Electrochemical response via oxygen vacancies at positive gate bias in LaAlO3(001)/La0.5Sr0.5CoO3-δ is used as a test case. XAS/XMCD measurements of 4-25 unit-cell-thick films first probe the evolution of hole doping (from the O K-edge pre-peak) and ferromagnetism (at the Co L-edges), to establish a baseline. Operando soft XAS/XMCD of electrolyte-gated films is then demonstrated, using optimized spin-coated gels with a thickness of ∼1 μm and a specific composition. The application of gate voltages up to +4 V is shown to dramatically suppress the O K-edge XAS pre-peak intensity and Co L-edge XMCD, thus enabling the Co valence and ferromagnetism to be tracked upon gate-induced reduction. Soft XAS and XMCD, with appropriate electrolyte design, are thus established to be viable for the operando characterization of electrolyte-gated oxides.