Electrical spin injection and transport in semiconductor nanowires: challenges, progress and perspectives
Spintronic devices are of fundamental interest for their nonvolatility and great potential for low-power electronics applications. The implementation of those devices usually favors materials with long spin lifetime and spin diffusion length. Recent spin transport studies on semiconductor nanowires have shown much longer spin lifetimes and spin diffusion lengths than those reported in bulk/thin films. In this paper, we have reviewed recent progress in the electrical spin injection and transport in semiconductor nanowires and drawn a comparison with that in bulk/thin films. In particular, the challenges and methods of making high-quality ferromagnetic tunneling and Schottky contacts on semiconductor nanowires as well as thin films are discussed. Besides, commonly used methods for characterizing spin transport have been introduced, and their applicability in nanowire devices are discussed. Moreover, the effect of spin–orbit interaction strength and dimensionality on the spin relaxation and hence the spin lifetime are investigated. Finally, for further device applications, we have examined several proposals of spinFETs and provided a perspective of future studies on semiconductor spintronics.