Competing correlated states around the zero-field Wigner crystallization transition of electrons in two dimensions


J. Falson, I. Sodemann, B. Skinner, D. Tabrea, Y. Kozuka, A. Tsukazaki, M. Kawasaki, K. von Klitzing & J. H. Smet 

The competition between kinetic energy and Coulomb interactions in electronic systems leads to complex many-body ground states with competing orders. Here we present zinc oxide-based two-dimensional electron systems as a high-mobility system to study the low-temperature phases of strongly interacting electrons. An analysis of the electronic transport provides evidence for competing correlated metallic and insulating states with varying degrees of spin polarization. Some features bear quantitative resemblance to quantum Monte Carlo simulation results, including the transition point from the paramagnetic Fermi liquid to Wigner crystal and the absence of a Stoner transition. At very low temperatures, we resolve a non-monotonic spin polarizability of electrons across the phase transition, pointing towards a low spin phase of electrons, and a two-order-of-magnitude positive magnetoresistance that is challenging to understand within traditional metallic transport paradigms. This work establishes zinc oxide as a platform for studying strongly correlated electrons in two dimensions.

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