Tracking the energies of one-dimensional sub-band edges in quantum point contacts using dc conductance measurements
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
The semiconductor quantum point contact has long been a focal point for studies of one-dimensional electron transport. Their electrical properties are typically studied using ac conductance methods, but recent work has shown that the dc conductance can be used to obtain additional information, with a density-dependent Landé effective g-factor recently reported [T.-M. Chen et al, Phys. Rev. B 79, 081301 (2009)]. We discuss previous dc conductance measurements of quantum point contacts,
... ing how valuable additional information can be extracted from the data. We provide a comprehensive and general framework for dc conductance measurements that provides a path to improving the accuracy of existing data and obtaining useful additional data. A key aspect is that dc conductance measurements can be used to map the energy of the 1D subband edges directly, giving new insight into the physics that takes place as the spin-split 1D subbands populate. Through a re-analysis of the data obtained by Chen et al, we obtain two findings. The first is that the 2-down subband edge closely tracks the source chemical potential when it first begins populating before dropping more rapidly in energy. The second is that the 2-up subband populates more rapidly as the subband edge approaches the drain potential. This second finding suggests that the spin-gap may stop opening, or even begin to close again, as the 2-up subband continues populating, consistent with recent theoretical calculations and experimental studies.