The fractional quantum Hall effect stands as a quintessential manifestation of an interacting two-dimensional electron system. One of the fractional quantum Hall effect's most fundamental characteristics is the energy gap separating the incompressible ground state from its excitations. Yet, despite nearly four decades of investigations, a quantitative agreement between the theoretically calculated and experimentally measured energy gaps is lacking. Here we report a systematic experimental study that incorporates very high-quality two-dimensional electron systems confined to GaAs quantum wells with fixed density and varying well widths. The results demonstrate a clear decrease of the energy gap as the electron layer is made thicker and the short-range component of the Coulomb interaction is weakened. We also provide a quantitative comparison between the measured energy gaps and the available theoretical calculations that takes into account the role of finite layer thickness and Landau level mixing. All the measured energy gaps fall below the calculations, but as the electron layer thickness increases, the results of experiments and calculations come closer. Accounting for the role of disorder in a phenomenological manner, we find better overall agreement between the measured and calculated energy gaps, although some puzzling discrepancies remain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)