Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carbon Nanotube Avalanche Process Nearly Doubles Current

10.02.2009
By pushing carbon nanotubes close to their breaking point, researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated a remarkable increase in the current-carrying capacity of the nanotubes, well beyond what was previously thought possible.

The researchers drove semiconducting carbon nanotubes into an avalanche process that carries more electrons down more paths, similar to the way a multilane highway carries more traffic than a one-lane road.

“Single-wall carbon nanotubes are already known to carry current densities up to 100 times higher than the best metals like copper,” said Eric Pop, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the U. of I. “We now show that semiconducting nanotubes can carry nearly twice as much current as previously thought.”

As reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers found that at high electric fields (10 volts per micron), energetic electrons and holes can create additional electron-hole pairs, leading to an avalanche effect where the free carriers multiply and the current rapidly increases until the nanotube breaks down.

The sharp increase in current, Pop said, is due to the onset of avalanche impact ionization, a phenomenon observed in certain semiconductor diodes and transistors at high electric fields, but not previously seen in nanotubes.

While the maximum current carrying capacity for metallic nanotubes has been measured at about 25 microamps, the maximum current carrying capacity for semiconducting nanotubes is less established. Previous theoretical predictions suggested a similar limit for single-band conduction in semiconducting nanotubes.

To study current behavior, Pop, graduate student Albert Liao and undergraduate student Yang Zhao first grew single-wall carbon nanotubes by chemical vapor deposition from a patterned iron catalyst. Palladium contacts were used for measurement purposes. The researchers then pushed the nanotubes close to their breaking point in an oxygen-free environment.

“We found that the current first plateaus near 25 microamps, and then sharply increases at higher electric fields,” said Pop, who also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the U. of I. ”We performed repeated measurements, obtaining currents of up to 40 microamps, nearly twice those of previous reports.”

By inducing very high electric fields in the nanotubes, the researchers drove some of the charge carriers into nearby subbands, as part of the avalanche process. Instead of being in just one “lane,” the electrons and holes could occupy several available lanes, resulting in much greater current.

The avalanche process (which cannot be observed in metallic carbon nanotubes because an energy gap is required for electron-hole multiplication) offers additional functionality to semiconducting nanotubes, Pop said. “Our results suggest that avalanche-driven devices with highly nonlinear turn-on characteristics can be fashioned from semiconducting single wall nanotubes.”

Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology through the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative.

James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu
http://news.illinois.edu/news/09/0209nanotubes.html

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>