Recent progress towards the development of ferromagnetic nitride semiconductors for spintronic applications

N. Newman*, S. Y. Wu, H. X. Liu, J. Medvedeva, Lin Gu, R. K. Singh, Z. G. Yu, I. L. Krainsky, S. Krishnamurthy, D. J. Smith, A. J. Freeman, M. Van Schilfgaarde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article describes progress towards producing prototype magnetoelectronic structures based on III-N semiconductor materials. We focus on the materials properties connected with the key physical phenomena underlying potential spintronic devices: producing, injecting, transporting, manipulating and detecting spin-polarized electron populations. Our experiments have shown that the maximum magnetic moment is realized for a composition of Ga 0.97Cr 0.03N and a substrate growth temperature of ∼ 1050 K. Ion channeling experiments show that ∼90% of Cr sits substitutionally on the cation site. The highest measured magnetization was 1.8μ B/Cr atom (∼60% of the expected moment from band theory for ideal material) with the Curie temperature over ∼900 K. This strongly suggests a link between the Cr Ga impurity band and ferromagnetism and suggests that a double-exchange-like mechanism is responsible for the ferromagnetic ordering. The transport properties of spin-polarized charge carriers were modeled theoretically taking into account both the Elliott - Yafet and the D'yakonov-Perel' scattering mechanisms. We include the spin-orbit interaction in the unperturbed Hamiltonian and treat scattering by ionized impurities and phonons as a perturbation. Our numerical calculations predict two orders of magnitude longer electron spin relaxation times and an order of magnitude shorter hole spin relaxation times in GaN than in GaAs. First-principles electronic structure calculations predict that efficient spin injection can be achieved using a ferromagnetic GaN : Cr electrode in conjunction with an AlN tunnel barrier. In this structure, the electrode is found to be half-metallic up to the interface and is thus a candidate for high-efficiency magnetoelectronic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2729-2737
Number of pages9
JournalPhysica Status Solidi (A) Applications and Materials Science
Volume203
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry

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