Electrostatic potential shape of gate-defined quantum point contacts

Geier, M. and Freudenfeld, J. and Silva, J.T. and Umansky, V. and Reuter, D. and Wieck, A.D. and Brouwer, P.W. and Ludwig, S.

Volume: 101 Pages:
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.101.165429
Published: 2020

Quantum point contacts (QPCs) are fundamental building blocks of nanoelectronic circuits. For their emission dynamics as well as for interaction effects such as the 0.7 anomaly the details of the electrostatic potential are important, but the precise potential shapes are usually unknown. Here, we measure the one-dimensional subband spacings of various QPCs as a function of their conductance and compare our findings with models of lateral parabolic versus hard-wall confinement. We find that a gate-defined QPC near pinch-off is compatible with the parabolic saddle-point scenario. However, as the number of populated subbands is increased, Coulomb screening flattens the potential bottom and a description in terms of a finite hard-wall potential becomes more realistic. © 2020 American Physical Society.

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