Alchemists dreamed of turning boring, base metals into exotic, noble metals. Although such dreams were never realized, scientists today can induce unexpected properties at the interface between two materials—including properties not present in either parent material. For example, researchers have discovered that if they combine SrTiO3 (a dielectric and paramagnetic material) together with LaMnO3 (an insulating and antiferromagnetic material) in just the right way, they can induce an insulating ferromagnetic state at the interface.
Illustration of the LaMnO3/SrTiO3 heterostructure, showing an LaMnO3 thickness of three unit cells (UC). Source: ALS website