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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J003417/1
Title: Beyond modulation doping
Principal Investigator: Ritchie, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Smith, Professor CG Ford, Professor CJB Cooper, Professor N
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr F Sfigakis
Project Partners:
Indian Inst of Technology (IIT) Bombay University of New South Wales
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2012 Ends: 31 March 2016 Value (£): 858,545
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Materials Characterisation
Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 May 2011 EPSRC Physical Sciences Physics - May Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form

When an impurity atom in a semiconductor crystal has more (or fewer) valence electrons than the atom it replaces, it can donate one or more electrons to (or accept them from) the crystal lattice. The deliberate addition of such impurities, called dopants, is the traditional means of generating mobile charge carriers (negatively-charged electrons or positively-charged holes) within semiconductor devices, including the silicon-based metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) and compound semiconductor high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) ubiquitous in modern electronics.

High-mobility, gallium-arsenide-based HEMTs in particular, which can be made from ultrahigh-purity wafers grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), have also been instrumental in the discoveries of new physics, including the fractional quantum Hall (FQH) effect, microwave-induced resistance oscillations, Wigner solid phases in magnetic field, ballistic transport and conductance quantisation in one-dimensional channels, single-electron quantum dots, Kondo physics, spin-based solid-state qubits, possible excitonic superfluidity in double-quantum-well structures, and possible non-Abelian statistics in certain novel FQH states.

Even with the technique of modulation doping, where dopants are placed far away from the conducting channel, disorder due to the ionised dopants can still be felt by the carriers in a high-purity wafer, and this disorder can interfere with phenomena being studied. However, these intentional dopants are not necessary if one uses instead an external electric field to electrostatically induce a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) or hole gas (2DHG) at the semiconductor heterointerface. This electric field can be applied with electrostatic gates on the front and/or back side of devices. Although the proof-of-principle demonstration of undoped devices (which required only one working device) was reported more than eighteen years ago by Bell Labs (USA), the complex cleanroom fabrication process and the ensuing very low yield of working devices have prevented the use of undoped devices from becoming mainstream. Over the last three years, our group has made a number of technological breakthroughs which allow a 90+% yield of working devices, including Hall bars and nanostructures (e.g., quantum dots). This yield is now high enough to have research projects depend on a steady, reliable supply of high-quality samples.

To capitalise on this success, we propose to combine our ability to fabricate such devices on demand with our expertise in MBE semiconductor wafer growth and millikelvin temperature measurements to further progress on two of the topics listed above, the fractional quantum hall effect and spin-based solid-state qubits. Many "exotic" FQH states present in the second Landau level do not fit the Laughlin/Jain theory which describes "conventional" FQH states, and are particularly sensitive to dopant-induced disorder. Our experimental programme will shed light on the nature of these states, particularly the famous state at filling factor 5/2 and its possible non-Abelian properties. Gate-defined electron spin qubits in GaAs were once amongst the forerunner systems for the realisation of a quantum computer. However, this system suffers from the presence of hyperfine interactions and charge noise, both of which cause spin decoherence on timescales too short for a practical quantum computer. Our experimental programme will demonstrate how both hyperfine interactions and charge noise are significantly reduced when gate-defined double quantum dots are fabricated from undoped 2DHGs.

Our proposed work will yield fundamental insights into physical phenomena not easily accessible using even the highest quality doped heterostructures.

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