- Dynamics of hot electrons in ultra-thin metallic films and small structures (2002)
- thesis deals with the investigation of the dynamics of optically excited (hot) electrons in thin and ultra-thin layers. The main interests concern about the time behaviour of the dissipation of energy and momentum of the excited electrons. The relevant relaxation times occur in the femtosecond time region. The two-photon photoemission is known to be an adequate tool in order to analyse such dynamical processes in real-time. This work expands the knowledge in the fields of electron relaxation in ultra-thin silver layers on different substrates, as well as in adsorbate states in a bandgap of a semiconductor. It contributes facts to the comprehension of spin transport through an interface between a metal and a semiconductor. The primary goal was to prove the predicted theory by reducing the observed crystal in at least one direction. One expects a change of the electron relaxation behaviour while altering the crystal’s shape from a 3d bulk to a 2d (ultra-thin) layer. This is due to the fact that below a determined layer thickness, the electron gas transfers to a two-dimensional one. This behaviour could be proven in this work. In an about 3nm thin silver layer on graphite, the hot electrons show a jump to longer relaxation time all over the whole accessible energy range. It is the first time that the temporal evolution of the relaxation of excited electrons could be observed during the transition from a 3d to a 2d system. In order to reduce or even eliminate the influence coming from the substrate, the system of silver on the semiconductor GaAs, which has a bandgap of 1.5eV at the Gamma-point, was investigated. The observations of the relaxation behaviour of hot electron in different ultra-thin silver layers on this semiconductor could show, that at metal-insulator-junctions, plasmons in the silver and in the interface, as well as cascading electrons from higher lying energies, have a huge influence to the dissipation of momentum and energy. This comes mainly from the band bending of the semiconductor, and from the electrons, which are excited in GaAs. The limitation of the silver layer on GaAs in one direction led to the expected generation of quantum well states (QWS) in the bandgap. Those adsorbate states have quantised energy- and momentum values, which are directly connected to the layer thickness and the standing electron wave therein. With the experiments of this work, published values could not only be completed and proved, but it could also be determined the time evolution of such a QWS. It came out that this QWS might only be filled by electrons, which are moving from the lower edge of the conduction band of the semiconductor to the silver and suffer cascading steps there. By means of the system silver on GaAs, and of the known fact that an excitation of electrons in GaAs with circularly polarised light of the energy 1.5eV does produce spin polarised electrons in the conduction band, it became possible to bring a contribution to the hot topic of spin injection. The main target of spin injection is the transfer of spin polarised electrons out of a ferromagnet into a semiconductor, in order to develop spin dependent switches and memories. It could be demonstrated here that spin polarised electrons from GaAs can move through the interface into silver, could be photoemitted from there and their spin was still being detectable. As a third investigation system, ultra-thin silver layers were deposited on the insulator MgO, which has a bandgap of 7.8eV. Also in this system, one could recognize a change in the relaxation time while reducing the dimension of the silver layer from thick to ultra-thin. Additionally, it came out an extreme large relaxation time at a layer thickness of 0.6 – 1.2nm. This time is an order of magnitude longer than at thick films, and this is a consequence of two factors: first, the reduction of the phase space due to the confined electron gas in the z-direction, and second, the slowlier thermalisation of the electron gas due to less accessible scattering partners.