Epitaxially stabilized iridium spinel oxide without cations in the tetrahedral site
Single-crystalline thin film of an iridium dioxide polymorph Ir2O4 has been fabricated by the pulsed laser deposition of LixIr2O4 precursor and the subsequent Li-deintercalation using soft chemistry. Ir2O4 crystallizes in a spinel (AB2O4) without A cations in the tetrahedral site, which is isostructural to λ-MnO2. Ir ions form a pyrochlore sublattice, which is known to give rise to a strong geometrical frustration. This Ir spinel was found to be a narrow gap insulator, in remarkable contrast to the metallic ground state of rutile-type IrO2. We argue that an interplay of a strong spin-orbit coupling and a Coulomb repulsion gives rise to an insulating ground state as in a layered perovskite Sr2IrO4.