Spintronics in graphene

Bart Van wees 

Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, Nijenborgh 4, Groningen 9747AG, Netherlands


I will give an overview of electron spin injection, spin transport, spin precession and spin manipulation in graphene. The focus will be on recent experiments on single graphene field effect devices with ferromagnetic contacts. The use of the so-called non-local geometry allows a detailed investigation of various aspects of spin injection and spin transport.

I will first give a basic introduction into the “standard model” for spin transport and show how it can be applied to carbon systems, in particular graphene. The Bloch equations will be explained, which describe the processes of spin diffusion, drift, precession and relaxation. Following that  will discuss that:

a) Spins can be transported through a graphene layer with a spin relaxation length of about 1.5 micrometer. By applying a perpendicular magnetic field Hanle spin precession can be studied and information about spin relaxation and the carrier diffusion can be obtained [1].

b) By applying a large DC electric field the transport of spins between injector and detector can be manipulated (sped up or slowed down) using carrier drift [2].

c) The spin relaxation is found to be slightly anisotropic, with spins directed perpendicular to the graphene plane relaxing faster than spins directed in the plane [3].

d) Spins can be injected into graphene with an injection efficiency up to 20 percent. This injection efficiency can be enhanced by a current bias which takes the carriers away from the injecting contacts. In this way injection efficiencies up to 38% have been achieved [4].

e) We have observed a scaling between the spin relaxation times and lengths and the carrier mobility in graphene [5,6]. I will discuss the possibility that in intrinsic graphene (where the carriers are only scattered by electron-phonon interaction) spin relaxation lenghts of 100 micrometer in graphene at room temperature might be possible, and even longer ones at lower temperatures. Related to that I will discuss the potential of graphene for future spintronics applications.

[1] N. Tombros et al., Nature 448, 571 (2007)

[2] N. Tombros et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 046601 (2008)

[3] C. Jozsa et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 236603 (2008)

[4] C. Jozsa et al., Phys. Rev. B 79, 081402 R (2009)

[5] M. Popinciuc et al., submitted to Phys. Rev. B.

[6] C. Jozsa et al, in preparation.

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Presentation: Invited oral at E-MRS Fall Meeting 2009, Symposium E, by Bart Van wees
See On-line Journal of E-MRS Fall Meeting 2009

Submitted: 2009-05-22 11:40
Revised:   2009-06-07 00:48
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