Thermoballistic spin-polarized electron transport in paramagnetic semiconductors

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Abstract

Spin-polarized electron transport in diluted magnetic semiconductors (DMS) in the paramagnetic phase is described within the thermoballistic transport model. In this (semiclassical) model, the ballistic and diffusive transport mechanisms are unified in terms of a thermoballistic current in which electrons move ballistically across intervals enclosed between arbitrarily distributed points of local thermal equilibrium. The contribution of each interval to the current is governed by the momentum relaxation length. Spin relaxation is assumed to take place during the ballistic electron motion. In paramagnetic DMS exposed to an external magnetic field, the conduction band is spin-split due to the giant Zeeman effect. In order to deal with this situation, we extend our previous formulation of thermoballistic spin-polarized transport so as to take into account an arbitrary (position-dependent) spin splitting of the conduction band. The current and density spin polarizations as well as the magnetoresistance are each obtained as the sum of an equilibrium term determined by the spin-relaxed chemical potential, and an off-equilibrium contribution expressed in terms of a spin transport function that is related to the splitting of the spin-resolved chemical potentials. The procedures for the calculation of the spin-relaxed chemical potential and of the spin transport function are outlined. As an illustrative example, we apply the thermoballistic description to spin-polarized transport in DMS/NMS/DMS heterostructures formed of a nonmagnetic semiconducting sample (NMS) sandwiched between two DMS layers. We evaluate the current spin polarization and the magnetoresistance for this case and, in the limit of small momentum relaxation length, find our results to agree with those of the standard drift-diffusion approach to electron transport.

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