Oscillatory spin-polarized tunnelling from silicon quantum wells controlled by electric field

Abstract

Spin-dependent electronic transport is widely used to probe and manipulate magnetic materials and develop spin-based devices. Spin-polarized tunnelling, successful in ferromagnetic metal junctions, was recently used to inject and detect electron spins in organics and bulk GaAs or Si. Electric field control of spin precession was studied in III–V semiconductors relying on spin–orbit interaction, which makes this approach inefficient for Si, the mainstream semiconductor. Methods to control spin other than through precession are thus desired. Here we demonstrate electrostatic modification of the magnitude of spin polarization in a silicon quantum well, and detection thereof by means of tunnelling to a ferromagnet, producing prominent oscillations of tunnel magnetoresistance of up to 8%. The electric modification of the spin polarization relies on discrete states in the Si with a Zeeman spin splitting, an approach that is also applicable to organic, carbon-based and other materials with weak spin–orbit interaction.

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Figure 1: Device layout and diagrams of electric field effect on spins in a Si 2DEG.
Figure 2: Principle of detecting spin polarization in Si 2DEG and conductance spectra.
Figure 3: Electric field modification of spin polarization in a Si 2DEG and oscillatory spin-polarized tunnelling.
Figure 4: Temperature and magnetic field scaling of TMR from a silicon 2DEG.
Figure 5: Absence of spin signals in control device with Yb.
Figure 6: Calculated TMR resonance in the presence of potential variations.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to D. Pierce for sharing his knowledge about the Cs-metal dispensers, and to M. P. de Jong for useful discussions. This work was financially supported by the NWO-VIDI programme, the Netherlands Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and the Netherlands Nanotechnology Networks NANOIMPULS and NANONED (supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs).

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R.J. conceived and designed the experiment, coordinated the project and carried out most of the transport measurements. B.C.M. and S.P.D. fabricated the devices and carried out part of the measurements. All co-authors contributed important insight. R.J. wrote the paper, with input from all co-authors.

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Correspondence to Ron Jansen.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Jansen, R., Min, BC. & Dash, S. Oscillatory spin-polarized tunnelling from silicon quantum wells controlled by electric field. Nature Mater 9, 133–138 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat2605

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