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Keywords:

  • quantum wells;
  • spin flipping;
  • spin–orbit interaction;
  • spin polarization;
  • spintronics

Abstract

Electron reflection off and transmission through a stepped discontinuity in quantum well (QW), for example, due difference in spin–orbit (SO) interaction constants, effective masses, or potential step, is analyzed in a general case. Correct boundary conditions at the discontinuity are taken into account. It was found that spin flipping of the transmitted beam can be as high as 100%. A simple formula that relates the transmitted spin polarization and SO interaction constants on both sides of the discontinuity is presented and a relevant experimental set-up is proposed to measure SO interaction constants using a homobarrier in the QW.