Manipulating spin-orbit interaction in semiconductors

Makoto Kohda, Tobias Bergsten, Junsaku Nitta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Spin-orbit interaction (SOI), where the orbital motion of electrons is coupled with the orientation of electron spins, originates from a relativistic effect. Generally, in nonrelativistic momentum, p = ℏk ≪ m 0c, the SOI is negligible. However, in a semiconductor heterostructure, the small energy-band gap (Eg ≪ m 0c2) and the electron wave modulated by the atomic core potential markedly enhance the SOI. Since the SOI acts as an effective magnetic field, it may offer novel functionalities for controlling the spin degree of freedom such as the electrical spin generation and the electrical control of the spin precession in a semiconductor heterojunction. Here, we review recent experimental studies on the manipulation of the SOI in a semiconductor two-dimensional electron gas. We first present a theoretical overview of the Rashba SOI, which lifts the spin degeneracy due to structural inversion asymmetry. We then present experimental results on the quantum well (QW) thickness dependences of the Rashba SOI in InP/InGaAs/InAlAs asymmetric QWs by analyzing the weak antilocalization. Finally, we show quantum interference effects due to the spin precession in a small array of mesoscopic InGaAs rings, which is an experimental demonstration of the time-reversal Aharonov-Casher effect and the electromagnetic dual to the Al'tshuler-Aronov-Spivak effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031008
JournalJournal of the Physical Society of Japan
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar


  • Aharonov-Casher effect
  • Rashba spin orbit interaction
  • Spin interference
  • Weak antilocalization


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