Europhys. Lett.
Volume 72, Number 4, November 2005
Page(s) 631 - 637
Section Condensed matter: electronic structure, electrical, magnetic, and optical properties
Published online 14 October 2005
Europhys. Lett., 72 (4), pp. 631-637 (2005)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2005-10266-0

Spin accumulation and equilibrium currents at the edge of 2DEGs with spin-orbit coupling

G. Usaj and C. A. Balseiro

Instituto Balseiro and Centro Atómico Bariloche, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (8400) San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

received 20 July 2005; accepted in final form 16 September 2005
published online 14 October 2005

We show that in a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) the interplay between the Rashba spin-orbit coupling and a potential barrier (e.g., the sample edge) generates interesting spin effects. In the presence of an external charge current, a spin accumulation is built up near the barrier while in equilibrium there is an inhomogeneous spin current which is localized at the barrier and flows parallel to it. When an in-plane magnetic field perpendicular to the barrier is applied, the system also develops an inhomogeneous charge current density. These effects originate purely from the structure of the eigenstates near the boundary.

72.25.Dc - Spin polarized transport in semiconductors.
73.23.-b - Electronic transport in mesoscopic systems.
73.20.-r - Electron states at surfaces and interfaces.

© EDP Sciences 2005