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Since the late 20th century, spintroncis has become a very active ﬁeld of research [ŽFS04]. The prospect of spin based information technology, featuring strongly decreased energy consumption and possibly quantum-computation capabilities, has fueled this interest. Standard materials, like bulk gallium arsenide (GaAs), have experienced new attention in this context by exhibiting extraordinarily long lifetimes for nonequilibrium spin information, which is an important requirement for efﬁcient spin based information storage and transfer. Another important factor is the lengthscale over which spin information can be transported in a given material and the role of external inﬂuences. Both aspects have been studied experimentally with innovative optical methods since the late 1990s by the groups of D. D. AWSHALOM and S. A. CROOKER et al. [KA99, CS05, CFL+05]. Although the pioneering experimental approaches presented by these authors led to a variety of insights into spin propagation, some questions were raised as well. Most prominently, the classical Einstein relation, which connects the mobility and diffusivity of a given particle species, seemed to be violated for electron spins in a bulk semiconductor. In essence, nonequilibrium spins appeared to move (diffuse) faster than the electrons that actually carry the spin. However, this contradiction was masked by the fact, that the material of interest was n-type GaAs with a doping concentration directly at the transition between metallic and insulating behavior (MIT). In this regime, the electron mobility is difﬁcult to determine experimentally. Consequently, it was not a priori obvious that the spin diffusion rates determined by the newly introduced optical methods were in contradiction with established electrical transport data.
However, in an attempt to extend the available data of optical spin microscopy, another issue surfaced, concerning the mathematical drift-diffusion model that has been commonly used to evaluate lateral spin density measurements. Upon close investigation, this model appears to have a limited range of applicability, due to systematic discrepancies with the experimental data (chapter 4). These deviations are noticeable in original publications as well, and it is shown in the present work that they originate from the local heating of electrons in the process of optical spin pumping. Based on insights gained during the second half of the 20th century, it is recapitulated why conduction electrons are easily overheated at cryogenic temperatures. The main reason is the poor thermal coupling between electrons and the crystal lattice (chapter 3). Experiments in the present work showed that a signiﬁcant thermal gradient exists in the conduction band under local optical excitation of electron–hole pairs. This information was used to develop a better mathematical model of spin diffusion, which allowed to derive the diffusivity of the undisturbed system, due to an effective consideration of electron overheating. In this way, spin diffusivities of n-GaAs were obtained as a function of temperature and doping density in the most interesting regime of the metal–insulator-transition.
The experiments presented in this work were performed on a series of n-type bulk GaAs samples, which comprised the transition between metallic conductivity and electrical insulation at low temperatures. Local electron temperature gradients were measured by a hyperspectral photoluminescence imaging technique with subsequent evaluation of the electron–acceptor (e,A$^0$) line shape. The local density of nonequilibrium conduction electron spins was deduced from scanning magneto-optic Kerr effect microscopy. Numerical evaluations were performed using the ﬁnite elements method in combination with a least-squares ﬁtting procedure.
Chapter 1 provides an introduction to historical and recent research in the ﬁeld of spintronics, as far as it is relevant for the understanding of the present work. Chapter 2 summarizes related physical concepts and experimental methods. Here, the main topics are semiconductor optics, relaxation of hot conduction electrons, and the dynamics of nonequilibrium electron spins in semiconductors.
Chapter 3 discusses optical heating effects due to local laser excitation of electron–hole pairs. Experimental evaluations of the acceptor-bound-exciton triplet lines led to the conclusion that the crystal lattice is usually not overheated even at high excitation densities. Here, the heat is efﬁciently dissipated to the bath, due to the good thermal conductivity of the lattice. Furthermore, the heating of the lattice is inherently limited by the weak heat transfer from the electron system, which on the other hand is also the reason why conduction electrons are easily overheated at temperatures below ≈ 30 K. Spatio-spectral imaging of the electron–acceptor-luminescence line shape allowed to trace the thermal gradient within the conduction band under focused laser excitation. A heat-diffusion model was formulated, which reproduces the experimental electron-temperature trend nicely for low-doped GaAs samples of n- and p-type. For high-doped n-type GaAs samples, it could be shown that the lateral electron-temperature proﬁle is well approximated by a Gaussian. This facilitated easy integration of hot electron inﬂuence into the mathematical model of spin diffusion.
Chapter 4 deals with magneto-optical imaging of optically induced nonequilibrium conduction-electron spins in n-GaAs close to the MIT. First, the spectral dependence of the magneto-optic Kerr effect was examined in the vicinity of the fundamental band gap. Despite the marked differences among the investigated samples, the spectral shape of the Kerr rotation could be described in terms of a simple Lorentz-oscillator model in all cases. Based on this model, the linearity of the Kerr effect with respect to a nonequilibrium spin polarization is demonstrated, which is decisively important for further quantitative evaluations.
Furthermore, chapter 4 presents an experimental survey of spin relaxation in n-GaAs at the MIT. Here, the dependence of the spin relaxation time on bath temperature and doping density was deduced from Hanle-MOKE measurements. While all observed trends agree with established literature, the presented results extend the current portfolio by adding a coherent set of data.
Finally, diffusion of optically generated nonequilibrium conduction-electron spins was investigated by scanning MOKE microscopy. First, it is demonstrated that the standard diffusion model is inapplicable for data evaluation in certain situations. A systematic survey of the residual deviations between this model and the experimental data revealed that this situation unfortunately persisted in published works. Moreover, the temperature trend of the residual deviations suggests a close connection to the local overheating of conduction electrons. Consequently, a modiﬁed diffusion model was developed and evaluated, in order to compensate for the optical heating effect. From this model, much more reliable results were obtained, as compared to the standard diffusion model. Therefore, it was shown conclusively that the commonly reported anomalously large spin diffusivities were at least in parts caused by overheated conduction electrons.
In addition to these new insights some experimental and technological enhancements were realized in the course of this work. First, the optical resolution of scanning MOKE microscopy was improved by implementing a novel scanning mechanism, which allows the application of a larger aperture objective than in the usual scheme. Secondly, imaging photoluminescence spectroscopy was employed for spatially resolved electron-temperature measurements. Here, two different implementations were developed: One for lattice-temperature measurements by acceptor–bound exciton luminescence and a second for conduction-electron temperature measurements via the analysis of the electron–acceptor luminescence line shape.
It is shown in the present work that the originally stated anomalously high spin diffusivities were caused to a large extent by unwanted optical heating of the electron system. Although an efﬁcient method was found to compensate for the inﬂuence of electron heating, it became also evident that the classical Einstein relation was nonetheless violated under the given experimental conditions. In this case however, it could be shown that this discrepancy did not originate from an experimental artifact, but was instead a manifestation of the fermionic nature of conduction electrons.

Time and Spatially Resolved Photoluminescence Spectroscopy of Hot Excitons in Gallium Arsenide
(2015)

The present thesis investigates the impact of hot exciton effects on the low-temperature time and spatially resolved photoluminescence (PL) response of free excitons in high-purity gallium arsenide (GaAs). The work at hand extends available studies of hot carrier effects, which in bulk GaAs have up to now focused on hot electron populations. In crucial distinction from previous work, we extensively study the free exciton second LO-phonon replica. The benefit of this approach is twofold. First, the two LO phonon-assisted radiative recombination allows to circumvent the inherent interpretation ambiguities of the previously investigated free exciton zero-phonon line. Second, the recombination line shape of the second LO-phonon replica provides direct experimental access to the exciton temperature, thereby enabling the quantitative assessment of hot exciton effects.
In the first part of the thesis, we address the influence of transient cooling on the time evolution of an initially hot photocarrier ensemble. To this end, we investigate time-resolved photoluminescence (TRPL) signals detected on the free exciton second LO-phonon replica. Settling a long-standing question, we show by comparison with TRPL transients of the free exciton zero-phonon line that the slow free exciton photoluminescence rise following pulsed optical excitation is dominated by the slow buildup of a free exciton population and not by the relaxation of large K-vector excitons to the Brillouin zone center. To establish a quantitative picture of the delayed photoluminescence onset, we determine the cooling dynamics of the initially hot photocarrier cloud from a time-resolved line shape analysis of the second LO-phonon replica. We demonstrate that the Saha equation, which fundamentally describes the thermodynamic population balance between free excitons and the uncorrelated electron-hole plasma, directly translates the experimentally derived cooling curves into the time-dependent conversion of unbound electron-hole pairs into free excitons.
In the second part of the thesis, we establish the impact of hot exciton effects on low-temperature spatially resolved photoluminescence (SRPL) studies. Such experiments are widely used to investigate charge carrier and free exciton diffusion in semiconductors and semiconductor nanostructures. By SRPL spectroscopy of the second LO-phonon replica, we show that above-band gap focused laser excitation inevitably causes local heating in the carrier system, which crucially affects the diffusive expansion of a locally excited exciton packet. Undistorted free exciton diffusion profiles, which are correctly described by the commonly used formulation of the photocarrier diffusion equation, are only observed in the absence of spatial temperature gradients. At low sample temperatures, the reliable determination of free exciton diffusion coefficients from both continuous-wave and time-resolved SRPL spectroscopy requires strictly resonant optical excitation.
Using resonant laser excitation, we observe the dimensional crossover of free exciton diffusion in etched wire structures of a thin, effectively two-dimensional GaAs epilayer. When the lateral wire width falls below the diffusion length, the sample geometry becomes effectively one-dimensional. The exciton diffusion profile along the wire stripe is then consistently reproduced by the steady-state solution to the one-dimensional diffusion equation.
Finally, we demonstrate the formation of macroscopic free and bound exciton photoluminescence rings in bulk GaAs around a focused laser excitation spot. Both ring formation effects are due to pump-induced local heating in the exciton system. For a quantitative assessment of the mechanism underlying the free exciton ring formation, we directly determine the exciton temperature gradient from a spatially resolved line shape analysis of the free exciton second LO-phonon replica. We demonstrate that a pump-induced hot spot locally modifies the thermodynamic population balance between free excitons and unbound electron-hole pairs described by the Saha equation, which naturally explains the emergence of macroscopic free exciton ring structures.
In summary, we demonstrate that quantitative consideration of hot exciton effects provides a coherent picture both of the time-domain free exciton luminescence kinetics and of the distinct spatially resolved photoluminescence patterns developing under the influence of spatial photocarrier diffusion.

The present thesis “Hot spin carriers in cold semiconductors” investigates hot carrier effects in low-temperature photoinduced magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) microscopy of electron spins in semiconductor heterostructures. Our studies reveal that the influence of hot photocarriers in magneto-optical pump-probe experiments is twofold.
First, it is commonly assumed that a measurement of the local Kerr rotation using an arbitrary probe wavelength maps the local electron spin polarization. This is the fundamental assumption that underlies the widely used two-color MOKE microscopy technique. Our continuous-wave (cw) spectroscopy experiments demonstrate that this assumption is not correct.
At low lattice temperatures the nonresonant spin excitation by the focused pump laser inevitably leads to a strong heating of the electron system. This heating, in turn, locally modifies the magneto-optical coefficient which links the experimentally observed Kerr rotation to the electron spin polarization. As a consequence, the spin-induced local Kerr rotation is augmented by spin-unrelated changes in the magneto-optical coefficient. A spatially resolved measurement of the Kerr rotation then does not correctly map the electron spin polarization profile.
We demonstrate different ways to overcome this limitation and to correctly measure the electron spin profile. For cw spectroscopy we show how the true local electron spin polarization can be obtained from a quantitative analysis of the full excitonic Kerr rotation spectrum. Alternatively, picosecond MOKE microscopy using a spectrally broad probe laser pulse mitigates hot-carrier effects on the magneto-optical spin detection and allows to directly observe the time-resolved expansion of optically excited electron spin packets in real-space.
Second, we show that hot photocarriers strongly modify the spin diffusion process. Owing to their high kinetic energy, hot carriers greatly enhance the electron spin diffusion coefficient with respect to the intrinsic value of the undisturbed system. Therefore, for steady-state excitation the spin diffusivity is strongly enhanced close to the pump spot center where hot electrons are present. Similarly, for short delays following pulsed excitation the high initial temperature of the electrons leads to a very fast initial expansion of the spin packet which gradually slows as the electrons cool down to the lattice temperature.
While few previous publications have recognized the possible influence of hot carriers on the electron spin transport properties, the present work is the first to directly observe and quantify such hot carrier contributions. We develop models which for steady-state and pulsed excitation quantitatively describe the experimentally observed electron spin diffusion. These models are capable of separating the intrinsic spin diffusivity from the hot electron contribution, and allow to obtain spin transport parameters of the undisturbed system.
We perform extensive cw and time-resolved spectroscopy studies of the lattice temperature dependence of the electron spin diffusion in bulk GaAs. Using our models we obtain a consistent set of parameters for the intrinsic temperature dependence of the electron spin diffusion coefficient and spin relaxation time and the hot carrier contributions which quantitatively describes all experimental observations. Our analysis unequivocally demonstrates that we have, as we believe for the first time, arrived at a coherent understanding of photoinduced low-temperature electron spin diffusion in bulk semiconductors.