Directed self-assembly of nanoparticle array: A single electron device platform to make novel systems
The biggest attraction of building nanometer structures is the emergence of novel properties and phenomena at these length scales. In the discipline of electronics particularly, nanoscale bridges the gap between the microscopic quantum world to the macroscopic classical world. The bridge can be tailored to effectively affect the material properties. One of the well-known phenomena that is altered at the nanoscale is the electron transport through a metal, i.e. the Ohm's law. As the size of the metal particle reduces to nanometer, Ohm's law breaks down due to trapping of a single electron charge, i.e. local charging, that prohibits the subsequent steam of electrons to pass through. This phenomenon is referred to as the Coulomb blockade, where the current is blocked below a threshold bias, VT. However, to observe a robust VT, the system has to be cooled to cryogenic temperatures. Here, fabrication and construction of a nano-system using directed self-assembled network of 1D necklace of 10 nm Au particles are described, which exhibits a robust single electron effect with a record high VT of 7.5 V at room temperature and a subsequent current, I rise as ( V/VT -- 1)ζ, where ζ is a critical constant, usually around 2. These physical parameters can be precisely tuned by tailoring the dimension and topology of the ensemble. The finding is important as nanoparticle based Single Electron Devices (SEDs) have become of great interest due to their orders of magnitude high sensitivity to gating. For over six decades of research on SEDs, it is clear that V T > 2 V at room temperature is required to make a robust device to eliminate the omnipresent "quantum noise" in these systems. Our system has not only shown a room temperature VT of well above 2 V but also its easy integrability with microelectronics circuits. Detailed scientific studies have been performed on the formation and structure of necklace array to understand the assembly process. Subsequent modification of the necklace array can be performed by nano-cementing to regulate its electrical and optoelectronic properties while maintaining the single electron effect. In the second aspect of the process, the device fabrication, a method implementing soft-lithography and electron beam has been developed to pattern the necklace monolayer with custom design at sub-micron levels. The technique confines the network of the necklaces to a width small enough that the current is limited to a single necklace array connecting two larger necklace network clusters. The approach allows fundamental and sophisticated measurements to be conducted to study mesoscale properties of disordered structures.
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