A polarization sensitive interferometer for Faraday rotation detection

Date

2007-07-23T23:19:10Z

Authors

LaForge, Joshua Michael

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Abstract

Time-resolved Faraday rotation (TRFR) is a pulsed laser pump/probe optical measurement used to characterize electron spin dynamics in semiconductor materials. A Mach-Zehnder type interferometer with orthogonally polarized arms is presented as a device for TRFR measurement that is superior to optical bridge detection, the traditional measuring technique, since Faraday rotation can be passively optically amplified via interference. Operation of the interferometer is analyzed under ideal conditions. Corrections to the ideal case stemming from imperfectly aligned optics, finite polarization extinction ratios, and an imperfect recombination optic are analyzed using a matrix transformation approach. The design of the interferometer is presented and chronicled. A description of the single-beam active control system utilized to stabilize the interferometer by continuous corrections to the optical path length of one arm with a piezoelectric actuator is given. Optical amplification by increasing the power in either arm of the interferometer is demonstrated and TRFR measurements taken with the interferometer at ambient temperatures are compared with measurements taken with the optical bridge. We find the interferometer to offer a detection limit on the order of 50 mrad at room temperature, which is five times more sensitive than the optical bridge. Isolation and stabilization of the interferometer were also successful in reducing signal noise to a level comparable with the optical bridge. Our results demonstrate that the interferometer is a better detection device for Faraday rotation under ambient conditions. In the immediate future, improvements to the control system should be made and experiments should be performed with high-quality samples at cryogenic temperatures to confirm that the interferometer performs as favorably under those conditions.

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Keywords

interferometer, spintronics, Mach-Zehnder, time-resolved Faraday-rotation, Faraday rotation, Faraday effect, semiconductor, gallium arsenide, pulsed laser, ultrafast spectrometry

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