Investigation of the electron and thermal transport in rare-earth nitrides
Gadolinium nitride (GdN) and samarium nitride (SmN) have been widely studied to understand their ferromagnetic ordering and electronic structure, and for their promise in spintronics applications. This thesis presents experimental magnetotransport studies of GdN and SmN films in which experimental results have been compared with the existing band structure calculation. Three GdN films have been prepared in different conditions, among them two films are epitaxial quality and one film is polycrystalline in nature, and two films of SmN were also studied. Their magnetic properties were probed by SQUID magnetometry and they are found to be ferromagnetic. The transition temperature differs from sample to sample and this behaviour has been attributed to the presence of magnetic polarons that nucleate around nitrogen vacancies and give rise to an inhomogeneous ferromagnetic state. The charge transport results have been discussed for all GdN and SmN films. A full set of charge/heat transport results are obtained on only one epitaxial GdN. The difference of resistivity among these samples is noticeable. The Hall effect results show the presence of different carrier concentration with at most only weak temperature dependence. We also have noticed the presence of anomalous Hall effect in the paramagnetic region for a lower-concentration epitaxial GdN. The thermopower in both GdN and SmN was measured to provide further insight into the material’s electronic properties. In this thesis we present the first experimental investigation of the thermopower of epitaxial gadolinium nitride and samarium nitride films, measured using an experimental set-up designed for measuring the temperature dependent thermopower of thin films. Our result shows a negative thermopower for both GdN and SmN films and simple, though strong temperature dependence. At low temperatures we observe a peak near the ferromagnetic transition temperature in GdN. The results are interpreted in terms of the diffusion thermopower. Overall the results suggest that the nitrogen vacancy concentration controls the carrier concentration and plays a significant role towards the transport properties. We conclude that all films are either heavily, moderately or weakly doped semiconductors with a metallic characteristic.