Anisotropic magnetoresistance and piezoelectric effect in GaAs Hall samples

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Application of a strong magnetic field perpendicular to a two-dimensional electron system leads to a variety of quantum phases ranging from incompressible quantum Hall liquid to Wigner solid, charge density wave, and exotic non-Abelian states. A few quantum phases seen in past experiments on GaAs Hall samples of electrons show pronounced anisotropic magnetoresistance values at certain weak magnetic fields. We argue that this might be due to the piezoelectric effect that is inherent in a semiconductor host such as GaAs. Such an effect has the potential to create a sufficient in-plane internal strain that will be felt by electrons and will determine the direction of high and low resistance. When Wigner solid, charge density wave, and isotropic liquid phases are very close in energy, the overall stability of the system is very sensitive to local order and, thus, can be strongly influenced even by a weak perturbation such as the piezoelectric-induced effective electron-electron interaction, which is anisotropic. In this work, we argue that an anisotropic interaction potential may stabilize anisotropic liquid phases of electrons even in a strong magnetic field regime where normally one expects to see only isotropic quantum Hall or isotropic Fermi liquid states. We use this approach to support a theoretical framework that envisions the possibility of an anisotropic liquid crystalline state of electrons in the lowest Landau level. In particular, we argue that an anisotropic liquid state of electrons may stabilize in the lowest Landau level close to the liquid-solid transition region at filling factor ν=1/6 for a given anisotropic Coulomb interaction potential. Quantum Monte Carlo simulations for a liquid crystalline state with broken rotational symmetry indicate stability of liquid crystalline order consistent with the existence of an anisotropic liquid state of electrons stabilized by anisotropy at filling factor ν=1/6 of the lowest Landau level.

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