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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Novel room temperature ferromagnetic semiconductors


Today's information world, bits of data are processed by semiconductor chips, and stored in the magnetic disk drives. But tomorrow's information technology may see magnetism (spin) and semiconductivity (charge) combined in one 'spintronic' device that exploits both charge and 'spin' to carry data (the best of two worlds). Spintronic devices such as spin valve transistors, spin light emitting diodes, non-volatile memory, logic devices, optical isolators and ultra-fast optical switches are some of the areas of interest for introducing the ferromagnetic properties at room temperature in a semiconductor to make it multifunctional. The potential advantages of such spintronic devices will be higher speed, greater efficiency, and better stability at a reduced power consumption. This Thesis contains two main topics: In-depth understanding of magnetism in Mn doped ZnO,and our search and identification of at least six new above room temperature ferromagnetic semiconductors. Both complex doped ZnO based new materials, as well as a number of nonoxides like phosphides, and sulfides suitably doped with Mn or Cu are shown to give rise to ferromagnetism above room temperature. Some of the highlights of this work are discovery of room temperature ferromagnetism in? ZnO:Mn (paper in Nature Materials, Oct issue, 2003)? ZnO doped with Cu (containing no magnetic elements in it)? GaP doped with Cu (again containing no magnetic elements in it)? Enhancement of Magnetization by Cu co-doping in ZnO:Mn? CdS doped with Mn, and a few others not reported in this thesis.We discuss in detail the first observation of ferromagnetism above room temperature in the form of powder, bulk pellets, in 2-3 mu-m thick transparent pulsed laser deposited films of the Mn (<4 at. percent) doped ZnO. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) spectra recorded from 2 to 200nm areas showed homogeneous distribution of Mn substituting for Zn a 2+ state in the ZnO lattice. Ferromagnetic Resonance (FMR) technique is used to confirm the existence of ferromagnetic ordering at temperatures as high as 425K. The ab initio calculations were found to be consistent with the observation of ferromagnetism arising from fully polarized Mn 2+ state. The key to observed room temperature ferromagnetism in this system is the low temperature processing, which prevents formation of clusters, secondary phases and the host ZnO from becoming n-type. The electronic structure of the same Mn doped ZnO thin films studied using XAS, XES and RIXS. revealed a strong hybridization between Mn 3d and O?2p states, which is an important characterstic of a Dilute magnetic Semiconductor (DMS). It is shown that the various processing conditions like sintering temperature, dopant concentration and the properties of precursors used for making of DMS have a great influence on the final properties. Use of various experimental techniques to verify the physical properties, and to understand the mechanism involved to give rise to ferromagnetism is presented. Methods to improve the magnetic moment in Mn doped ZnO are also described. New promising DMS materials (such as Cu doped ZnO are explored). The demonstrated new capability to fabricate powder, pellets, and thin films of room temperature ferromagnetic semiconductors thus makes possible the realization of a wide range of complex elements for a variety of new multifunctional phenomena related to Spintronic devices as well as magneto-optic components.

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