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Electron Transport and Dephasing in Semiconductor Quantum Dots

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Technical Report

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Stanford University Stanford United States

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At low temperatures, electrons in semiconductors can be phase coherent over distances exceeding tens of microns and are sufficiently monochromatic that a variety of interesting quantum interference phenomena can be observed and manipulated. This work discusses electron transport measurements through cavities quantum dotsformed by laterally confining electrons in the two-dimensional sub-band of a GaAsAlGaAs heterojunction. Metal gates fabricated using e-beam lithography enable fine control of the cavity shape as well as the leads which connect the dot cavity to source and drain reservoirs. Quantum dots can be modeled by treating the devices as chaotic scatterers. Predictions of this theoretical description are found to be in good quantitative agreement with experimental measurements of full conductance distributions at different temperatures. Weak localization, the suppression of conductance due to phase-coherent backscattering at zero magnetic field, is used to measure dephasing times in the system. Mechanisms responsible for dephasing, including electron-electron scattering and Nyquist phase relaxation, are investigated by studying the loss of phase coherence as a function of temperature. Coupling of external microwave fields to the device is also studied to shed light on the unexpected saturation of dephasing that is observed below an electron temperature of 100mK. The effect of external fields in the present experiment is explained in terms of Joule heating from an ac bias.

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