Electronic and Spin Correlations in Asymmetric Quantum Point Contacts

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A quantum point contact (QPC) is a quasi-one dimensional electron system, for which the conductance is quantized in unit of $2e^2/h$. This conductance quantization can be explained in a simple single particle picture, where the electron density of states cancels the electron velocity to a constant. However, two significant features in QPCs were discovered in the past two decades, which have drawn much attention: the 0.7 effect in the linear conductance and zero-bias-anomaly (ZBA) in the differential conductance. Neither of them can be explained by single particle pictures.

In this thesis, I will present several electron correlation effects discovered in asymmetric QPCs, as shown below:

The linear conductance of our asymmetric QPCs shows conductance resonances. The number of these resonances increases as the QPC channel length increases. The quantized conductance plateau is also modulated by tuning the gate voltage of the QPCs. These two features, observed in the linear conductance, are ascribed to the formation of quasi-bound states in the QPCs, which is further ascribed to the electron-correlation-induced barriers.

The differential conductance for long channel QPCs shows the zero-bias-anomaly for every other linear conductance resonance valley, suggesting a near even-odd behavior. This even-odd law can be interpreted within the electron-correlation-induced barrier picture, where the quasi-localized non-zero spin in the quasi-bound state (Kondo-like) couples to the Fermi sea in the lead. For a specific case, triple-peak structure is observed in the differential conductance curves, while the electron filling number is still even, suggesting a spin triplet formation at zero magnetic field.

Small differential conductance oscillations as a function of bias voltage were discovered and systematically studied in an asymmetric QPC sample. These oscillations are significantly suppressed in a low in-plane magnetic field, which is completely unexpected. The oscillations are washed out when the temperature is increased to 0.8K. Numerical simulation, based on the thermal smearing of the Fermi distribution, was performed to simulate the oscillation behavior at high temperatures, using the low temperature data as an input. This simulation agrees with the oscillations off zero-bias region, but does not agree with the temperature evolution of the structure near zero-bias. Based on the above oscillation characteristics, all simple single particle pictures were carefully considered, and then ruled out. After exhausting all these pictures, we think these small oscillations are related to novel electronic and spin correlations.






Zhang, Hao (2014). Electronic and Spin Correlations in Asymmetric Quantum Point Contacts. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9036.


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