Quantum-well band structure effects on the emission polarization from a spin-polarized electron reservoir

Agrawal, Mukul; Solomon, G. S.
September 2004
Applied Physics Letters;9/6/2004, Vol. 85 Issue 10, p1820
Academic Journal
Many spin-polarized-based devices utilize the optical polarization from semiconductor quantum wells (QWs) as a read out. Under ideal conditions at zero crystal momentum, 100% optical polarization is obtained from these QWs for fully polarized electrons. However, carrier populations typically extend over nonzero crystal momentum states, where band mixing results in nonideal optical polarization. We investigate a single InxGa1-xAs(x=0.2, and 0.08) QW in GaAs in a typical p-i-n spin injector structure, using eight band k.p theory including strain, electric field and quantum-confined Stark effects. By evaluating the carrier distribution and wave functions of the QW states, we find the resulting optical polarization is reduced to ∼60% at 10 K, and further for high temperature and high fields. We show that under certain conditions we can flip the sign of the optical polarization, suggesting the possibility of an electric field controlled optical or spin polarization switch.


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