AlN/GdN/AlN double heterostructures were grown on c-sapphire substrates using a reactive rf sputtering method under high vacuum conditions. The optical absorption spectrum of the GdN shows a clear fundamental band edge of GdN around 800 nm; this transition is attributed to the minority spin band energy of GdN at the X point. Nitrogen vacancy centers cause a blue-shift of the optical band edge of GdN, which could be ascribed to both the band filling, and the electron-hole interactions resulting from the free carriers generated by nitrogen vacancies. Temperature-dependent magnetization measurements demonstrate a clear change in the magnetization values of GdN with respect to the N2 partial pressure. Nitrogen vacancy centers in the thin GdN film raise the Curie temperature from 31 K to 39 K, which has been accurately measured by the Arrott plots.
Topical issue: Excitonic Processes in Condensed Matter, Nanostructured and Molecular Materials. Guest editors: Maria Antonietta Loi, Jasper Knoester and Paul H. M. van Loosdrecht