Spin electronics in metallic nanoparticles
Tijiwa Birk, Felipe
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The work presented in this thesis shows how tunneling spectroscopy techniques can be applied to metallic nanoparticles to obtain useful information about fundamental physical processes in nanoscopic length scales. At low temperatures, the discrete character of the energy spectrum of these particles, allows the study of spin-polarized current via resolved "electron-in-a-box" energy levels. In samples consisting of two ferromagnetic electrodes tunnel coupled to single aluminum nanoparticles, spin accumulation mechanisms are responsible for the observed spin-polarized current. The observed effect of an applied perpendicular magnetic field, relative to the magnetization orientation of the electrodes, indicates the suppression of spin precession in such small particles. More generally, in the presence of an external non-collinear magnetic field, it is the local field "felt" by the particle that determines the character of the tunnel current. This effect is also observed in the case where only one of the electrodes is ferromagnetic. In contrast to the non-magnetic case, ferromagnetic nanoparticles exhibit a much more complex energy spectrum, which cannot be accounted for, using the simple free-electron picture. It will be shown that interactions between quasi-particle excitations due to sequential electron tunneling and spin excitations in the particle are likely to play an important role in the observed temperature/voltage dependence of magnetic hysteresis loops.