Imaging coherent electron flow

B. J. LeRoy, A. C. Bleszynski, M. A. Topinka, R. M. Westervelt, S. E.J. Shaw, E. J. Heller, K. D. Maranowski, A. C. Gossard

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Images of electron flow through a two-dimensional electron gas from a quantum point contact (QPC) can be obtained at liquid He temperatures using scanning probe microscopy (SPM). A negatively charged SPM tip depletes the electron gas immediately below it and decreases the conductance by backscattering electrons. Images of electron flow are obtained by recording the conductance as the tip is scanned over the sample. These images show angular patterns that are characteristic of electron flow through individual modes of the QPC, as well as well- defined branches at longer distances. The addition of a prism formed by a triangular gate bends electron paths as the electron density is reduced under the prism by an applied gate voltage. Under the conditions of the experiment, electron-electron scattering is the dominant inelastic process. By observing how the amplitude of backscattered electrons in images of electron flow decreases with added electron energy, we are able to determine the average length and time necessary for inelastic scattering. A dc voltage V0 applied across the QPC accelerates electrons so that their energy is greater than the Fermi energy before inelastic scattering occurs. The signal is observed to decrease in amplitude and eventually disappear at distances from the QPC that decrease progressively as V0 is increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalInstitute of Physics Conference Series
StatePublished - 2003
EventPhysics of Semiconductors 2002 - Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: Jul 29 2002Aug 2 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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