npj Computational Materials (2021-05-01)

Pure bulk orbital and spin photocurrent in two-dimensional ferroelectric materials

  • Xingchi Mu,
  • Yiming Pan,
  • Jian Zhou

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


Read online

Abstract We elucidate a bias-free light-induced orbital and spin current through nonlinear response theory, which generalizes the well-known bulk photovoltaic effect in centrosymmetric broken materials from charge to the spin and orbital degrees of freedom. We use two-dimensional nonmagnetic ferroelectric materials (such as GeS and its analogs) to illustrate this bulk orbital/spin photovoltaic effect, through first-principles calculations. These materials possess a vertical mirror symmetry and time-reversal symmetry but lack of inversion symmetry. We reveal that in addition to the conventional photocurrent that propagates parallel to the mirror plane (under linearly polarized light), the symmetric forbidden photocurrent perpendicular to the mirror actually contains electrons flow, which carries angular momentum information and move oppositely. This generates a pure orbital moment current with zero electric charge current. Such hidden photo-induced pure orbital current could lead to a pure spin current via spin–orbit coupling interactions. Therefore, a four-terminal device can be designed to detect and measure photo-induced charge, orbital, and spin currents simultaneously. All these currents couple with electric polarization P, hence their amplitude and direction can be manipulated through ferroelectric phase transition. Our work provides a route to generalizing nanoscale devices from their photo-induced electronics to orbitronics and spintronics.