Publication Details

Ang, Y., Ma, Z. & Zhang, C. (2015). Quantum ratchet in two-dimensional semiconductors with Rashba spin-orbit interaction. Scientific Reports, 5 1-7.


Ratchet is a device that produces direct current of particles when driven by an unbiased force. We demonstrate a simple scattering quantum ratchet based on an asymmetrical quantum tunneling effect in two-dimensional electron gas with Rashba spin-orbit interaction (R2DEG). We consider the tunneling of electrons across a square potential barrier sandwiched by interface scattering potentials of unequal strengths on its either sides. It is found that while the intra-spin tunneling probabilities remain unchanged, the inter-spin-subband tunneling probabilities of electrons crossing the barrier in one direction is unequal to that of the opposite direction. Hence, when the system is driven by an unbiased periodic force, a directional flow of electron current is generated. The scattering quantum ratchet in R2DEG is conceptually simple and is capable of converting a.c. driving force into a rectified current without the need of additional symmetry breaking mechanism or external magnetic field.

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