Staff directory Juan Francisco Sierra García

Juan Francisco Sierra García

Postdoctoral Researcher
Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices



  • Strongly anisotropic spin relaxation in graphene-transition metal dichalcogenide heterostructures at room temperature

    Benítez L.A., Sierra J.F., Savero Torres W., Arrighi A., Bonell F., Costache M.V., Valenzuela S.O. Nature Physics; 14 (3): 303 - 308. 2018. 10.1038/s41567-017-0019-2.

    A large enhancement in the spin-orbit coupling of graphene has been predicted when interfacing it with semiconducting transition metal dichalcogenides. Signatures of such an enhancement have been reported, but the nature of the spin relaxation in these systems remains unknown. Here, we unambiguously demonstrate anisotropic spin dynamics in bilayer heterostructures comprising graphene and tungsten or molybdenum disulphide (WS2, MoS2). We observe that the spin lifetime varies over one order of magnitude depending on the spin orientation, being largest when the spins point out of the graphene plane. This indicates that the strong spin-valley coupling in the transition metal dichalcogenide is imprinted in the bilayer and felt by the propagating spins. These findings provide a rich platform to explore coupled spin-valley phenomena and offer novel spin manipulation strategies based on spin relaxation anisotropy in two-dimensional materials. © 2017 The Author(s).

  • Thermoelectric spin voltage in graphene

    Sierra J.F., Neumann I., Cuppens J., Raes B., Costache M.V., Valenzuela S.O. Nature Nanotechnology; 13 (2): 107 - 111. 2018. 10.1038/s41565-017-0015-9.

    In recent years, new spin-dependent thermal effects have been discovered in ferromagnets, stimulating a growing interest in spin caloritronics, a field that exploits the interaction between spin and heat currents 1,2 . Amongst the most intriguing phenomena is the spin Seebeck effect 3-5, in which a thermal gradient gives rise to spin currents that are detected through the inverse spin Hall effect 6-8 . Non-magnetic materials such as graphene are also relevant for spin caloritronics, thanks to efficient spin transport 9-11, energy-dependent carrier mobility and unique density of states 12,13 . Here, we propose and demonstrate that a carrier thermal gradient in a graphene lateral spin valve can lead to a large increase of the spin voltage near to the graphene charge neutrality point. Such an increase results from a thermoelectric spin voltage, which is analogous to the voltage in a thermocouple and that can be enhanced by the presence of hot carriers generated by an applied current 14-17 . These results could prove crucial to drive graphene spintronic devices and, in particular, to sustain pure spin signals with thermal gradients and to tune the remote spin accumulation by varying the spin-injection bias. © 2017 The Author(s).


  • Spin precession in anisotropic media

    Raes B., Cummings A.W., Bonell F., Costache M.V., Sierra J.F., Roche S., Valenzuela S.O. Physical Review B; 95 (8, 085403) 2017. 10.1103/PhysRevB.95.085403. IF: 3.836

    We generalize the diffusive model for spin injection and detection in nonlocal spin structures to account for spin precession under an applied magnetic field in an anisotropic medium, for which the spin lifetime is not unique and depends on the spin orientation. We demonstrate that the spin precession (Hanle) line shape is strongly dependent on the degree of anisotropy and on the orientation of the magnetic field. In particular, we show that the anisotropy of the spin lifetime can be extracted from the measured spin signal, after dephasing in an oblique magnetic field, by using an analytical formula with a single fitting parameter. Alternatively, after identifying the fingerprints associated with the anisotropy, we propose a simple scaling of the Hanle line shapes at specific magnetic field orientations that results in a universal curve only in the isotropic case. The deviation from the universal curve can be used as a complementary means of quantifying the anisotropy by direct comparison with the solution of our generalized model. Finally, we applied our model to graphene devices and find that the spin relaxation for graphene on silicon oxide is isotropic within our experimental resolution. © 2017 American Physical Society.


  • Determination of the spin-lifetime anisotropy in graphene using oblique spin precession

    Raes B., Scheerder J.E., Costache M.V., Bonell F., Sierra J.F., Cuppens J., Van De Vondel J., Valenzuela S.O. Nature Communications; 7 ( 11444) 2016. 10.1038/ncomms11444. IF: 11.329

    We determine the spin-lifetime anisotropy of spin-polarized carriers in graphene. In contrast to prior approaches, our method does not require large out-of-plane magnetic fields and thus it is reliable for both low-and high-carrier densities. We first determine the in-plane spin lifetime by conventional spin precession measurements with magnetic fields perpendicular to the graphene plane. Then, to evaluate the out-of-plane spin lifetime, we implement spin precession measurements under oblique magnetic fields that generate an out-of-plane spin population. We find that the spin-lifetime anisotropy of graphene on silicon oxide is independent of carrier density and temperature down to 150 K, and much weaker than previously reported. Indeed, within the experimental uncertainty, the spin relaxation is isotropic. Altogether with the gate dependence of the spin lifetime, this indicates that the spin relaxation is driven by magnetic impurities or random spin-orbit or gauge fields.


  • Hot-Carrier Seebeck Effect: Diffusion and Remote Detection of Hot Carriers in Graphene

    Sierra J.F., Neumann I., Costache M.V., Valenzuela S.O. Nano Letters; 15 (6): 4000 - 4005. 2015. 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b00922. IF: 13.592

    We investigate hot carrier propagation across graphene using an electrical nonlocal injection/detection method. The device consists of a monolayer graphene flake contacted by multiple metal leads. Using two remote leads for electrical heating, we generate a carrier temperature gradient that results in a measurable thermoelectric voltage VNL across the remaining (detector) leads. Due to the nonlocal character of the measurement, VNL is exclusively due to the Seebeck effect. Remarkably, a departure from the ordinary relationship between Joule power P and VNL, VNL ∼ P, becomes readily apparent at low temperatures, representing a fingerprint of hot-carrier dominated thermoelectricity. By studying VNL as a function of bias, we directly determine the carrier temperature and the characteristic cooling length for hot-carrier propagation, which are key parameters for a variety of new applications that rely on hot-carrier transport. (Figure Presented). © 2015 American Chemical Society.


  • Fingerprints of inelastic transport at the surface of the topological insulator Bi 2 Se 3: Role of electron-phonon coupling

    Costache, M.V.; Neumann, I.; Sierra, J.F.; Marinova, V.; Gospodinov, M.M.; Roche, S.; Valenzuela, S.O. Physical Review Letters; 2014. 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.086601. IF: 7.728


  • Enhanced spin accumulation at room temperature in graphene spin valves with amorphous carbon interfacial layers

    Neumann, I.; Costache, M.V.; Bridoux, G.; Sierra, J.F.; Valenzuela, S.O. Applied Physics Letters; 2013. 10.1063/1.4820586. IF: 3.794