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Large spin-orbit coupling in carbon nanotubes

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  • G. A. Steele
  • Fei Pei
  • E A Laird
  • J M Jol
  • H. B. Meerwaldt
  • L. P. Kouwenhoven
Article number1573
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/03/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Communications
Number of pages6
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


It has recently been recognised that the strong spin-orbit interaction present in solids can lead to new phenomena, such as materials with non-trivial topological order. Although the atomic spin-orbit coupling in carbon is weak, the spin-orbit coupling in carbon nanotubes can be significant due to their curved surface. Previous works have reported spin-orbit couplings in reasonable agreement with theory, and this coupling strength has formed the basis of a large number of theoretical proposals. Here we report a spin-orbit coupling in three carbon nanotube devices that is an order of magnitude larger than previously measured. We find a zero-field spin splitting of up to 3.4 meV, corresponding to a built-in effective magnetic field of 29 T aligned along the nanotube axis. Although the origin of the large spin-orbit coupling is not explained by existing theories, its strength is promising for applications of the spin-orbit interaction in carbon nanotubes devices.