Surface magnetism of gallium arsenide nanofilms. PHYSICAL REVIEW B. 2017

Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is the most widely used second-generation semiconductor with a direct band gap, and it is being increasingly used as nanofilms. However, the magnetic properties of GaAs nanofilms have never been studied. Here we find by comprehensive density-functional-theory calculations that GaAs nanofilms cleaved along the 111 and 100 directions become intrinsically metallic films with strong surface magnetism and the magnetoelectric effect. Surface magnetism and electrical conductivity are realized via a combined effect of charge transfer induced by spontaneous electric polarization through the film thickness and spin-polarized surface states. The surface magnetism of 111 nanofilms can be significantly and linearly tuned by a vertically applied electric field, endowing the nanofilms with unexpectedly high magnetoelectric coefficients, which are tens of times higher than those of ferromagnetic metals and transition-metal oxides.