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Title: Low-dimensional electron transport and surface acoustic waves in GaAs and ZnO heterostructures
Author: Hou, Hangtian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6426
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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A surface acoustic wave (SAW) is a combination of a mechanical wave and a potential wave propagating on the surface of a piezoelectric substrate at the speed of sound. Such waves are widely applied in not only the communication industry, but also in quantum physics research, such as nanoelectronics, spintronics, quantum optics, and even quantum information processing. Here, I focus on low-dimensional electron transport and SAWs in GaAs and ZnO semiconductor heterostructures. The ability to pattern quantum nanostructures using gates has stimulated intense interest in research into mesoscopic physics. We have performed a series of simulations of gate structures, and having with the optimised boundary conditions and we find them to match experimental results, such as the pinch-off voltage of one-dimensional channels and SAW charge transport in induced n-i-n and n-i-p junctions. Using the improved boundary conditions, it is straightforward to model quantum devices quite accurately using standard software. With the calculated potential, we have modelled the process how a dynamic quantum dot is driven by a SAW and have analysed error mechanisms in SAW-driven quantisation (I=Nef, where N is the number of electrons in each SAW minimum, and f is the SAW resonant frequency). From energy spectroscopy measurements, we probe the electron energy inside a SAW-driven dynamic quantum dot and find that the small addition energy, which is around 3meV, is the main limitation for the SAW quantisation. To increase the confinement of SAW-driven quantum dots, we deposit a thin ZnO film, with a better piezoelectric coupling than GaAs, on a GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructure using high-target-utilisation sputtering (an Al2O3 buffer layer is deposited to protect the 2DEG during sputtering). With the ZnO, the SAW amplitude is greatly improved to 100 meV and the RF power required for pumping electrons using a SAW is greatly reduced. Finally, we have studied low-dimensional electron transport in a MgZnO/ZnO heterostructure. We have developed a technique for patterning gates using a parylene insulator, and used these to create one-dimensional quantum wires and observe electron ballistic transport with conductance quantised in units of 2e2/h The increasing electron effective mass as the 1D electron density decreases indicate that the electron-electron interaction in this MgZnO/ZnO heterostructure is strong. Because of these strong interactions, the 0.7 anomaly is observed just below each quantised plateau, and are much stronger than in GaAs quantum wires. Furthermore, we have also calculated the SAW-modulated spontaneous and piezoelectric polarisation in the ZnO heterostructure, and have observed a sign of this SAW-modulation in 2DEG density, which is different from the classical SAW-pumping mechanism. Our results show that a ZnO heterostructure should provide a good alternative to conventional III-V semiconductors for spintronics and quantum computing as they have less nuclear spins. This paves the way for the development of qubits benefiting from the low scattering of an undoped heterostructure together with potentially long spin lifetimes.
Supervisor: Ford, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Surface acoustic wave ; ZnO ; electron transport