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Detecting excitation and magnetization of individual dopants in a semiconductor


An individual magnetic atom doped into a semiconductor is a promising building block for bottom-up spintronic devices and quantum logic gates1,2,3. Moreover, it provides a perfect model system for the atomic-scale investigation of fundamental effects such as magnetism in dilute magnetic semiconductors4. However, dopants in semiconductors so far have not been studied by magnetically sensitive techniques with atomic resolution that correlate the atomic structure with the dopant’s magnetism. Here we show electrical excitation and read-out of a spin associated with a single magnetic dopant in a semiconductor host. We use spin-resolved scanning tunnelling spectroscopy to measure the spin excitations and the magnetization curve of individual iron surface-dopants embedded within a two-dimensional electron gas confined to an indium antimonide (110) surface. The dopants act like isolated quantum spins the states of which are governed by a substantial magnetic anisotropy that forces the spin to lie in the surface plane. This result is corroborated by our first principles calculations. The demonstrated methodology opens new routes for the investigation of sample systems that are more widely studied in the field of spintronics—that is, Mn in GaAs (ref. 5), magnetic ions in semiconductor quantum dots3, nitrogen-vacancy centres in diamond6 and phosphorus spins in silicon7.

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Figure 1: Fe atoms on InSb(110).
Figure 2: Inelastic electron tunnelling spectra.
Figure 3: Spin resolved Landau level spectroscopy.
Figure 4: Landau level asymmetry as a function of the magnetic field.


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J.W. would like to thank M. Morgenstern, and S.S. would like to thank M. Karolak for discussions. A.A.K. acknowledges M. Grobis for technical discussions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the ERC Advanced Grant “FURORE”, by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft via the SFB668, the Graduiertenkolleg 1286 “Functional Metal-Semiconductor Hybrid Systems”, as well as by the city of Hamburg via the cluster of excellence “Nanospintronics”. All DFT calculations were done at the North-German Supercomputing Alliance (HLRN).

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A.A.K. and B.C. performed the experiments. A.A.K., B.C. and J.W. did the data analysis. B.C. did the modelling. S.S. did the DFT calculations. J.W., A.A.K. and B.C. wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jens Wiebe.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Khajetoorians, A., Chilian, B., Wiebe, J. et al. Detecting excitation and magnetization of individual dopants in a semiconductor. Nature 467, 1084–1087 (2010).

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