Research in Engineering and Aviation

Scanning probe spectroscopy of semiconductor donor molecules

February 2008

Author(s): I. Kuljanishvili, C Kayis, S. H. Tessmer, C. Piermarocchi, T. Kaplan, L.N. Pfeiffer, K.W. West.

Journal: Nature Physics 4, 227-233, 2008. DOI: 10.1038/nphys855´╗┐´╗┐


´╗┐Semiconductor devices continue to press into the nanoscale regime, and new applications have been proposed for which a single dopant atom acts as the functional part of the device1, 2, 3. Moreover, because shallow donors and acceptors are analogous to hydrogen atoms, experiments on small numbers of dopants have the potential to be a testing ground for fundamental questions of atomic and molecular physics4, 5. Although dopant properties are well understood with respect to the bulk, the study of configurations of dopants in small numbers is an emerging field6, 7. Here we present local capacitance measurements of electrons entering silicon donors in a gallium arsenide heterostructure. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first example of single-electron capacitance spectroscopy carried out directly with a scanning probe tip8. The precise position with respect to tip voltage of the observed single-electron peaks varies with the location of the probe, reflecting a random distribution of silicon within the donor plane. In addition, three broad capacitance peaks are observed independent of the probe location, indicating clusters of electrons entering the system at approximately the same voltages. These broad peaks are consistent with the addition energy spectrum of donor molecules, effectively formed by nearest-neighbour pairs of silicon donors.´╗┐