Transition metal oxides belong to the class of iono-covalent materials in which electrons are, to first order, localized in tight metal-oxygen bonds. They appear to be quite different from classical metals in which electrons are assumed to be delocalized in a free electron gas. Nevertheless, due to exchange interactions and hybridization of atomic orbitals, oxides exhibit many interesting physical properties like magnetic ordering and various electron transport properties that extend from wide gap insulators to narrow band conductors and high-temperature superconducting (HTS) superconductors. This class of materials appears well-suited to the study of the damage induced by heavy ion irradiation and its consequence on physical properties like electrical resistivity.
In this article, we will describe the results of heavy ion irradiations in magnetic oxides, exhibiting a wide palette of electron transport properties from insulators to metals through hopping semiconductors and in HTS copper oxides that are narrow-band metals above Tc. We will show that heavy ion irradiation, in addition to disordering matter, can induce changes in some physical properties like magnetic ordering and orientation of magnetic fields, and can produce large increases of the critical current. To account for these results, the thermal spike model will be considered as a possible way to understand the damage creation in iono-covalent compounds.