Electric control of the spin Hall effect by intervalley transitions


Controlling spin-related material properties by electronic means is a key step towards future spintronic technologies. The spin Hall effect (SHE) has become increasingly important for generating, detecting and using spin currents, but its strength—quantified in terms of the SHE angle—is ultimately fixed by the magnitude of the spin–orbit coupling (SOC) present for any given material system. However, if the electrons generating the SHE can be controlled by populating different areas (valleys) of the electronic structure with different SOC characteristic the SHE angle can be tuned directly within a single sample. Here we report the manipulation of the SHE in bulk GaAs at room temperature by means of an electrical intervalley transition induced in the conduction band. The spin Hall angle was determined by measuring an electromotive force driven by photoexcited spin-polarized electrons drifting through GaAs Hall bars. By controlling electron populations in different (Γ and L) valleys, we manipulated the angle from 0.0005 to 0.02. This change by a factor of 40 is unprecedented in GaAs and the highest value achieved is comparable to that of the heavy metal Pt.

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Figure 1: Schematics of optically induced intervalley SHE.
Figure 2: Electric field dependence of the longitudinal carrier transport and optically induced SHE voltages.
Figure 3: Electric field dependence of Hanle effect measurement and spin polarization P in the Si-doped GaAs.
Figure 4: Evolution of the spin Hall angle θSH in the intervalley electron transition.
Figure 5: Transport and optically induced SHE voltage measurements for an undoped GaAs.


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N.O. would like to thank Funai Foundation for Information Technology, for the Overseas Scholarship. H.K. acknowledges support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). T.J. acknowledges support from the EU European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant no. 268066, from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic grant no. 14-37427G, and from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Praemium Academiae. J.S. acknowledges support from US grants ONR-N000141110780, NSF-DMR-1105512 and from the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation. This project is also supported by the EPSRC under Grant No. EP/J003638/1.

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N.O. designed the experimental set-up, and collected and analysed all of the data with support from H.K., T.T., E.S. and C.H.W.B.; I.F. and D.A.R. supplied the samples; J.S., J.M. and T.J. provided the theory calculations; H.K., N.O., J.S. and T.J. wrote the manuscript; all authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to N. Okamoto or H. Kurebayashi.

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Okamoto, N., Kurebayashi, H., Trypiniotis, T. et al. Electric control of the spin Hall effect by intervalley transitions. Nature Mater 13, 932–937 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4059

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