Magnetoconductance signatures of subband structure in semiconductor nanowires Academic Article uri icon

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  • The radial confining potential in a semiconductor nanowire plays a key role in determining its quantum transport properties. Previous reports have shown that an axial magnetic field induces flux-periodic conductance oscillations when the electronic states are confined to a shell. This effect is due to the coupling of orbital angular momentum to the magnetic flux. Here, we perform calculations of the energy level structure, and consequently the conductance, for more general cases ranging from a flat potential to strong surface band bending. The transverse states are not confined to a shell, but are distributed across the nanowire. It is found that, in general, the subband energy spectrum is aperiodic as a function of both gate voltage and magnetic field. In principle, this allows for precise identification of the occupied subbands from the magnetoconductance patterns of quasi-ballistic devices. The aperiodicity becomes more apparent as the potential flattens. A quantitative method is introduced for matching features in the conductance data to the subband structure resulting from a particular radial potential, where a functional form for the potential is used that depends on two free parameters. Finally, a short-channel InAs nanowire FET device is measured at low temperature in search of conductance features that reveal the subband structure. Features are identified and shown to be consistent with three specific subbands. The experiment is analyzed in the context of the weak localization regime, however, we find that the subband effects predicted for ballistic transport should remain visible when back scattering dominates over interband scattering, as is expected for this device.


  • Holloway, Gregory W
  • Shiri, Daryoush
  • Haapamaki, Chris M
  • Willick, Kyle
  • Watson, Grant
  • Lapierre, Ray Robert
  • Baugh, Jonathan

publication date

  • January 16, 2015