Control of electron tunnelling by fine band engineering of semiconductor potential barriers†
Quantum tunnelling (QTN) devices show a promising future for energy saving and ultrafast operation thanks to the unprecedented development of two-dimensional materials. However, the immature techniques for device fabrication hamper severely their further progress and application. To overcome such a challenge, the abundant processing technology used in semiconductor electronics is worth considering. Herein, a device prototype is fabricated based on band engineering to enable flexible control of QTN probability (TP) within a III–V semiconductor multilayer. While the initial heights of all barriers are set to obtain similar TPs under no bias, the conduction band slopes of InGaSb and AlSb barriers are modulated to a state where their TPs vary reversely under electric fields. On this basis, revealed by in situ bias electron holography, a unidirectional accumulation of electrons has been realized inside the multilayer structure. Moreover, the inevitable element segregation/diffusion during device growth plays a key role in band structure optimization, which is confirmed by strain analysis. The feasibility of the above modulation strategy is also confirmed by theoretical simulations. Our findings might provide a new perspective on the innovation of semiconductor devices and the application of QTN effect.