Looking for spin in all the wrong places

Professor Nitin Samarth
Pennsylvania State University

The spin and anomalous Hall effects are related phenomena that arise from the spin-dependent scattering of charge carriers in solids in the presence of spin-orbit coupling. Conventional wisdom has motivated many experimental studies of these effects in narrow band gap semiconductors where spin-orbit coupling effects are inherently strong or in ferromagnets where spin scattering dominates electrical transport. I will describe two recent experiments on systems with manifestly weak spin-orbit coupling that suggest a need to cast a wider net in explorations of the spin and anomalous Hall effects. Our studies surprisingly reveal:

a. An electrically-tunable anomalous Hall effect in paramagnetic 2DEGs formed in a magnetically-dilute, wide bandgap semiconductor quantum well; [1]

b. A room temperature spin Hall effect in an n-doped wide bandgap semiconductor. [2]

[1] J. Cumings et al, Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, art. no. 196404 (2006).

[2] N. Stern et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, art. no. 126603 (2006).