Spintronic device physics in Si/Ge Heterostructures.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Physics


Spin injection and transport in semiconductors is under intense investigation by physicists around the world, motivated by fascinating new insights into condensed matter, aware of considerable potential for novel devices and ensuing technologies. However, spin injection and its detection pose exceptional challenges. Much focus has been on technologically important materials: GaAs, where optical properties aid spin detection, and more recently Si for its long spin lifetimes. Here, we propose a new approach based on germanium. Ge is compatible with Si technology, has a longer spin life time than GaAs, a higher room temperature hole mobility than GaAs or Si, and better modulation properties than Si due to its higher spin-orbit coupling. SiGe heterostructure technology also has the potential to increase spin diffusion lengths by virtue of dramatic enhancements in carrier mobility.

We recently carried out optical experiments that demonstrated RT spin transport and extraction through Ge for the first time, based on a structure consisting of Ge grown epitaxially on GaAs and an electrodeposited Ni/Ge Schottky contact [C. Shen et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, 162104 (2010)]. Here, we propose to build upon that work and use the Si-Ge system to its full extent, through delta doping and bandstructure-engineering to maximize spin transparency of the electrical contacts and using strain and low dimensionality to enhance coherent transport in the channel. The culmination of this project should be the exciting prospect of the elusive two-terminal semiconductor spin valve operating at room temperature and an early demonstration of spin modulation by a gate electrode in such a device.

The programme will combine the complementary expertise of the partners: Warwick in SiGe epitaxy and in carrier transport, Southampton in Schottky barrier research, and Cambridge in semiconductor spin transport by optical and electrical means, together with the facilities of the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre and industrial support from Toshiba Europe Research Ltd.


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De Los Santos Valladares L (2014) Characterization of Ni thin films following thermal oxidation in air in Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, Nanotechnology and Microelectronics: Materials, Processing, Measurement, and Phenomena

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De Los Santos Valladares L (2016) Thermal oxidation of amorphous germanium thin films on SiO 2 substrates in Semiconductor Science and Technology

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Newton P (2015) Magnetotransport in p-type Ge quantum well narrow wire arrays in Applied Physics Letters

Description We have studied the growth of materials and techniques for controlled spin injection
Exploitation Route For further academic and industrial research
Sectors Electronics

Description Physics at work 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Physics at work takes place every year at the Cavendish Laboratory. A total of 2000 school students visit to listern to talks and demonstrations. My research group gives around 20 presentations to 25 students each year about semiconductor physics.

Heightened interest in science and particular physics amongst local school students. Physics undergraduates are currently at record numbers in Cambridge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,
URL http://www-outreach.phy.cam.ac.uk/physics_at_work/