Neutron scattering studies of magnetic semiconductor thin films and superlattices
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Neutron scattering studies of magnetic semiconductor thin films and superlattices. T. M. Giebultowicz 1 and Henryk Kępa 2,1 1. Dept. of Physics, Oregon State university, Corvallis, OR,USA 2. Institute of Experimental Physics, Warsaw University, Poland Subtitle:

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Neutron scattering studies of magnetic semiconductor thin films and superlattices l.jpg

Neutron scattering studies of magneticsemiconductor thin films and superlattices

T. M. Giebultowicz1and Henryk Kępa2,1

1. Dept. of Physics, Oregon State university, Corvallis, OR,USA

2. Institute of Experimental Physics, Warsaw University, Poland


Doing neutron scattering in Oregon?

Well oregonians still can do neutron scattering if they have l.jpg
Well, Oregonians still can doneutron scattering, if they have:

  • Generous support for their research projects from CNR NIST, and from National Science Foundation;

  • Good collaborators and good friends!

Outline l.jpg

  • magnetic neutron diffraction and interlayer spin correlations in all-semiconductor antiferromagnetic systems, e.g. EuTe/PbTe

  • Interlayer exchange coupling in ferromagnetic EuS/PbS and EuS/YbSe superlattices

  • magnetic domain structure of EuS/PbS, EuS/YbSe and Ga(Mn)As/GaAs superlattices studied by polarized neutron reflectometry.

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Magnetic semiconductors - historical remark: MOTHER NATUREmade them almost exclusivelyantiferromagnetic!

When we started our research long time ago, we had no other choice

than to study

Antiferromagnetic / NonmagneticSuperlattices (e.g., EuTe/PbTe)

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AFM Bragg reflection

bulk TN = 9.6 K

EuTe 3-m epilayer

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EuTe/PbTe superlattices

NIST Center for Neutron Research NG1reflectometer

= 4.75 Ǻ

Advent of semiconductor spintronics l.jpg
Advent of semiconductor spintronics

  • End of 1990s: successes in the sythesis of new epitaxial ferromagnetic semiconductors, most notably Ga(Mn)As (Curie T may be as high as 175 K).

  • Much new excitement about magnetic semiconductors and their superlattices. ‘All-semiconductor’ heterostructures are expected to play a crucial role in second-generation spintronics devices (first-generation: metallic systems)

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New epitaxial systems:

Theoretically predicted

Curie temperatures for

strongly p-type alloys

with 5% Mn.

  • Neutrons can be used for:

  • Investigating the new systems (transition temps., exchange parameters, etc.);

  • Studying effects of current

  • interest, such as, e.g.,

  • interlayer magnetic coupling

  • or the domain structure in

  • superlattices (not necessarily

  • using new materials – intere-sting things can be done on “old” systems, e.g.,EuS.

Year 2000: We find Dr. A. Sipatov from

Ukraine, who grows very interesting

EuS/PbS and EuS/YbSe superlattices!

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EuS – Heisenberg ferromagnet TC = 16.6 K (bulk), Eg=1.5 eV

PbS – narrow-gap (Eg=0.3 eV) semiconductor (n≈ 1017 cm-3)

YbSe – wide-gap (Eg=1.6 eV) semiconductor (semiinsulator)

all NaCl-type structure with lattice constants:


5.936 Ǻ


(lattice mismatch ≈ 0.5%)

4-200 Ǻ

30-60 Å

number of repetitions



a=6.29 Å

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Unpolarized neutron reflectivity experiments on

the EuS/PbS system

(NG-1 reflectometer, NIST Center for Neutron Research)

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Interlayer exchange coupling mediated by valence band electrons

J.Blinowski & P.Kacman, Phys. Rev. B 64 (2001) 045302.

P.Sankowski & P.Kacman, Acta Phys. Polon. A 103 (2003) 621

Alternative explanations l.jpg
Alternative explanations... electrons

  • PbS is a narrow-gap material. At low T the concentrations of carriers may be still pretty high. Perhaps the effect seen in EuS/PbS is a carrier-mediated coupling?

  • Crucial test: make a EuS/XY system, in which XY is a wide-gap semiconductor or an insulator

  • An ideal material, YbSe was found for that purpose.

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Unpolarized neutron reflectivity experiments electrons on the EuS/YbSe system(NG-1 reflectometer, NIST Center for Neutron Research)

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EuS/PbS electrons


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EuS/PbS electrons


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Advantages of using polarized neutrons… electrons

FM domains in Ga(Mn)As/GaAs superlattices

Here are data from a Ga(Mn)As/GaAs superlattice

(6% of Mn) obtained using an unpolarized beam:

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Polarized neutron beam experiments – the principles electrons

Atomic spins S and the applied magnetic

field H lie in the x-z reflecting planes.

External field H and the neutron

polarization P are parallel to z-axis

Parallel to H projections of S  non-spin-flip (NSF) scattering

(nuclear-magnetic interference)

Perpendicular ones  purely magnetic spin-flip (SF)

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Polarized neutron reflectivity profiles for the electrons

EuS/YbSe (46/20) Å.

in-plane [110] axis horizontal

EuS/PbS (30/4) Å - polarization analysis of the 1-st AFM SL Bragg peak

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EuS/PbS superlattices on (111)BaF EuS/PbS & EuS/YbSe2

Polarized neutron reflectivity studies

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The model EuS/PbS & EuS/YbSe

…. etc., where:


is the angle of rotation of the sample about Q

Conclusions l.jpg
CONCLUSIONS sample about Q

  • Neutron reflectometry offers insight into some properties of magnetic semiconductor superlattices that cannot be obtained by other techniqes (interlayer coupling, domain structure);

  • Although the experiments, essentially, offer support for the model of intelayer coupling conveyed by the valence electrons, they also reveal that some ‘ingredients’ may still be missing in that theory;

  • In all investigated systems, polarization analysis reveals a significant asymmetry in the population of domain states - the reasons are not yet clearly understood, but this phenomenon may have important practical implications and studying it is certainly worth pursuing.

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For saturated sample about Qsampleα=90º


Experimental value: