Special Reviews

Making Nonmagnetic Semiconductors Ferromagnetic

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Science  14 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5379, pp. 951-956
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5379.951

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Semiconductor devices generally take advantage of the charge of electrons, whereas magnetic materials are used for recording information involving electron spin. To make use of both charge and spin of electrons in semiconductors, a high concentration of magnetic elements can be introduced in nonmagnetic III-V semiconductors currently in use for devices. Low solubility of magnetic elements was overcome by low-temperature nonequilibrium molecular beam epitaxial growth, and ferromagnetic (Ga,Mn)As was realized. Magnetotransport measurements revealed that the magnetic transition temperature can be as high as 110 kelvin. The origin of the ferromagnetic interaction is discussed. Multilayer heterostructures including resonant tunneling diodes (RTDs) have also successfully been fabricated. The magnetic coupling between two ferromagnetic (Ga,Mn)As films separated by a nonmagnetic layer indicated the critical role of the holes in the magnetic coupling. The magnetic coupling in all semiconductor ferromagnetic/nonmagnetic layered structures, together with the possibility of spin filtering in RTDs, shows the potential of the present material system for exploring new physics and for developing new functionality toward future electronics.

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