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Thermopower in Two-Dimensional Electron Systems


Chickering, William Elbridge (2016) Thermopower in Two-Dimensional Electron Systems. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9HT2M7G.


The subject of this thesis is the measurement and interpretation of thermopower in high-mobility two-dimensional electron systems (2DESs). These 2DESs are realized within state-of-the-art GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructures that are cooled to temperatures as low as T = 20 mK. Much of this work takes place within strong magnetic fields where the single-particle density of states quantizes into discrete Landau levels (LLs), a regime best known for the quantum Hall effect (QHE). In addition, we review a novel hot-electron technique for measuring thermopower of 2DESs that dramatically reduces the influence of phonon drag.

Early chapters concentrate on experimental materials and methods. A brief overview of GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructures and device fabrication is followed by details of our cryogenic setup. Next, we provide a primer on thermopower that focuses on 2DESs at low temperatures. We then review our experimental devices, temperature calibration methods, as well as measurement circuits and protocols.

Latter chapters focus on the physics and thermopower results in the QHE regime. After reviewing the basic phenomena associated with the QHE, we discuss thermopower in this regime. Emphasis is given to the relationship between diffusion thermopower and entropy. Experimental results demonstrate this relationship persists well into the fractional quantum Hall (FQH) regime.

Several experimental results are reviewed. Unprecedented observations of the diffusion thermopower of a high-mobility 2DES at temperatures as high as T = 2 K are achieved using our hot-electron technique. The composite fermion (CF) effective mass is extracted from measurements of thermopower at LL filling factor ν = 3/2. The thermopower versus magnetic field in the FQH regime is shown to be qualitatively consistent with a simple entropic model of CFs. The thermopower at ν = 5/2 is shown to be quantitatively consistent with the presence of non-Abelian anyons. An abrupt collapse of thermopower is observed at the onset of the reentrant integer quantum Hall effect (RIQHE). And the thermopower at temperatures just above the RIQHE transition suggests the existence of an unconventional conducting phase.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Quantum Hall, Two-Dimensional Electrons, Thermopower
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Eisenstein, James P.
Group:Institute for Quantum Information and Matter
Thesis Committee:
  • Eisenstein, James P. (chair)
  • Kitaev, Alexei
  • Libbrecht, Kenneth George
  • Schwab, Keith C.
Defense Date:10 December 2015
Non-Caltech Author Email:chickering.bill (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:12122015-165527858
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9320
Deposited By: William Chickering
Deposited On:22 Jan 2016 23:37
Last Modified:02 Jun 2020 21:49

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