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Large positive magnetoresistive effect in silicon induced by the space-charge effect


Recent discoveries of large magnetoresistance in non-magnetic semiconductors1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 have gained much attention because the size of the effect is comparable to, or even larger than, that of magnetoresistance in magnetic systems9,10,11,12,13,14. Conventional magnetoresistance in doped semiconductors is straightforwardly explained as the effect of the Lorentz force on the carrier motion15, but the reported unusually large effects imply that the underlying mechanisms have not yet been fully explored. Here we report that a simple device, based on a lightly doped silicon substrate between two metallic contacts, shows a large positive magnetoresistance of more than 1,000 per cent at room temperature (300 K) and 10,000 per cent at 25 K, for magnetic fields between 0 and 3 T. A high electric field is applied to the device, so that conduction is space-charge limited16,17,18. For substrates with a charge carrier density below 1013 cm-3, the magnetoresistance exhibits a linear dependence on the magnetic field between 3 and 9 T. We propose that the observed large magnetoresistance can be explained by quasi-neutrality breaking of the space-charge effect, where insufficient charge is present to compensate the electrons injected into the device. This introduces an electric field inhomogeneity, analogous to the situation in other semiconductors in which a large, non-saturating magnetoresistance was observed1,2,3,4,5,19. In this regime, the motions of electrons become correlated, and thus become dependent on magnetic field. Although large positive magnetoresistance at room temperature has been achieved in metal–semiconductor hybrid devices6,7,8, we have now realized it in a simpler structure and in a way different from other known magnetoresistive effects9,10,11,12,13,14,20. It could be used to develop new magnetic devices from silicon, which may further advance silicon technology.

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Figure 1: Magnetoresistance of the In/n-Si/In device at 25 K.
Figure 2: Magnetoresistance probed by the internal voltage differences.
Figure 3: Large positive magnetoresistance of the intrinsic silicon at 300 K.
Figure 4: Large positive magnetoresistance at high electric field in n-Si and i-Si.


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We appreciate discussions with T. Shinjo, H. Akinaga, H. Sakakima, Y. Iye, J. Ohe, S. Takahashi and T. Susaki. This work was partly supported by KAKENHI, ICR Grants for Young Scientists, the Asahi Glass Foundation and the Sumitomo Foundation. M.P.D. acknowledges support from JSPS Research Fellowships for Young Scientists.

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Correspondence to Kensuke Kobayashi.

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Delmo, M., Yamamoto, S., Kasai, S. et al. Large positive magnetoresistive effect in silicon induced by the space-charge effect. Nature 457, 1112–1115 (2009).

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