Nanoscale Device Properties of Tellurium-based Chalcogenide Compounds
The great progress achieved in miniaturization of microelectronic devices has now reached a distinct bottleneck, as devices are starting to approach the fundamental fabrication and performance limit. Even if a major breakthrough is made in the fabrication process, these scaled down electronic devices will not function properly since the quantum effects can no longer be neglected in the nanoscale regime. Advances in nanotechnology and new materials are driving novel technologies for future device applications. Current microelectronic devices have the smallest feature size, around 10 nm, and the industry is planning to switch away from silicon technology in the near future. The new technology will be fundamentally different. There are several leading technologies based on spintronics, tunneling transistors, and the newly discovered 2-dimensional material systems. All of these technologies are at the research level, and are far from ready for use in making devices in large volumes. This dissertation will focus on a very promising material system, Te-based chalcogenides, which have potential applications in spintronics, thermoelectricity and topological insulators that can lead to low-power-consumption electronics. Very recently it was predicted and experimentally observed that the spin-orbit interaction in certain materials can lead to a new electronic state called topological insulating phase. The topological insulator, like an ordinary insulator, has a bulk energy gap separating the highest occupied electronic band from the lowest empty band. However, the surface states in the case of a three-dimensional or edge states in a two-dimensional topological insulator allow electrons to conduct at the surface, due to the topological character of the bulk wavefunctions. These conducting states are protected by time-reversal symmetry, and cannot be eliminated by defects or chemical passivation. The edge/surface states satisfy Dirac dispersion relations, and hence the physics of relativistic Dirac fermions becomes relevant. This results in peculiar quantum oscillations in transport measurements which make it possible to unambiguously identify surface Dirac fermions. In order to lead us towards a better understanding of topological insulators and their applications, it is, however, necessary to develop techniques that will enable high quality materials to be obtained in a routine and reliable way. However, this has been an enormous challenge so far. Since highly volatile components are involved in most topological insulators, whether in bulk single crystal or epitaxial thin films or chemical vapor deposition grown nanoribbons, maintaining near stoichiometry has proven to be very difficult. Observing the predicted transport properties of these systems, particularly surface carriers of high mobility whilst maintaining bulk insulating states, is seriously impeded by the unintentional doping of bulk carriers. Moreover, in thin films and hetrostructures, at the all-important thickness range of a few nanometers, the additional limitation of the film-substrate lattice mismatch and the resulting strain in films is a major concern. In this thesis, we have developed a synthesis technique to obtain high quality SnTe nanoribbons, which is a topological crystalline insulator and its surface states are topologically protected by mirror symmetry of the lattice. The obtained ribbons are nearly stoichiometric and show strong semiconducting behavior with a bandgap of 240 meV. This is the first time high quality SnTe nanoribbons have been synthesized. High quality SnTe nanoribbons form a potential platform to understand the magnetic topological insulating behavior. In this thesis, it is also shown that magnetic behavior can be introduced in SnTe nanoribbons by means of chromium doping. Magnetically doped topological insulators, possessing an energy gap created at the Dirac point are predicted to exhibit exotic phenomena including the quantized anomalous Hall Effect and a dissipationless transport, which facilitate the development of low-power-consumption devices using electron spins. In addition, this thesis also discusses the growth and transport properties of another Te-based chalcogenide system, CoTe with ferrimagnetic and semiconducting behavior. We have shown that the structural, electrical and magnetic properties can be tuned by controlling the amount of cobalt in the system.
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