Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Phys Chem Biophys
Spin generation, manipulation, and detection are foundations for spin physics and spintronics. One primary goal of spintronics is to discover materials and devices, which enable efficient electrical control of spins. The emerging field of topological insulators provides intriguing opportunities for spin generation and manipulation, owing to their strong spin-orbit character. Here we report that spins can be driven from a topological insulator thin film into an adjacent non-magnetic semiconductor at room temperature. At the interface between a topological insulator and GaAs heterostructure, a photo-induced spin current flows across the interface and induces an electrical current via the inverse spin Hall effect, which converts the spin current into a charge current. We find that the magnitude and direction of the helicity-dependent photocurrent can be controlled by gate-voltage, indicative of electric tuning of the spin configuration. Our results suggest that topological insulator heterostructures may eventually allow electric fields to manipulate the spin degree of freedom in a non-magnetic semiconductor, a new mechanism that can be used to create innovative optoelectronic and spintronic devices.
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