Manganites are compounds of manganese oxides which are feature colossal magnetoresistance - and are promising candidates for spintronics applications. Researchers from the University of Colorado discovered that 2D bilayer manganite (a lanthanum strontium manganese oxide) can change its stripes from fluctuating to static and back. Magnatide stripe are regions where where the material’s electrical charges gather and concentrate. Other so-called correlated-electron materials also have stripes, including many high-temperature superconductors having the same crystal structure: arrangements of layers of atoms named for the mineral perovskite.

Manganite stripes photo

The results mean that the material can switch from a metallic state (a conductor) to an insulator. This is the first good insight into what happens to the electronic properties of a material when stripes 'fluctuate'. It establishes the existence of a distinct new phase of the material, which the researchers call fluctuating bi-stripes.