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A molecular spin-photovoltaic device

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Science  18 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6352, pp. 677-680
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5348

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A spin-valve solar cell

Electronic spin currents can be measured with a spin valve—a device that injects charge carriers from one ferromagnetic electrode to another through a semiconductor layer. Some organic semiconductors can have long spin-carrier lifetimes and can also generate charge carriers through the photovoltaic effect. Sun et al. fabricated a spin valve based on C60 and showed that the spin current could be modulated by the photocurrent. At certain light intensities, the sign of the photocurrent could be changed using an applied magnetic field, an effect that could potentially be harnessed for sensing applications.

Science, this issue p. 677

Abstract

We fabricated a C60 fullerene–based molecular spin-photovoltaic device that integrates a photovoltaic response with the spin transport across the molecular layer. The photovoltaic response can be modified under the application of a small magnetic field, with a magnetophotovoltage of up to 5% at room temperature. Device functionalities include a magnetic current inverter and the presence of diverging magnetocurrent at certain illumination levels that could be useful for sensing. Completely spin-polarized currents can be created by balancing the external partially spin-polarized injection with the photogenerated carriers.

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