Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Penn researchers create the first reliable method for making gaps for nanotech apps


Mind the Nanogaps: Penn Researchers Create the First Reliable Method for Making Gaps for Nanotech AppsMind the Nanogaps: Penn Researchers Create the First Reliable Method for Making Gaps for Nanotech Apps

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have announced that they have bridged a major obstruction in the creation of nanoscale electronics by developing a simple, reliable and observable method of creating tiny, tiny gaps between electrodes.

Such "nanogaps" will make it possible to make electrical contact to structures on the nanoscale billionths of a meter. In a recent edition of the journal Applied Physics Letters, online now, physicists Marija Drndic and Michael Fischbein describe the creation of nanogaps, which could have applications ranging from ultra ast electronics to quantum computing to high-speed gene reading.

"A number of people have proposed nanoelectronic devices that use nanogaps, but nobody has been able to create nanogaps reliably in practice," said Marija Drndic, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences. "For the first time, we were able to make the world’s smallest and cleanest nanometer gaps that can be imaged directly with atomic resolution. These nanogaps can be used to electrically connect small objects, such as an individual molecule."

The ability to hook individual molecules -whether they are the product of nanotechnology or biotechnology -to electronic circuits is the goal of many researchers. Such systems will have applications in medicine, robotics, materials science and even security. In addition, electronics on the nanoscale will be used to create denser, faster storage devices and microprocessor chips.

To create these gaps, Drndic and graduate student Michael Fischbein used electron beam lithography, a common nanotechnology tool that uses electrons to create patterns on a surface. Their research succeeded where previous efforts failed because of the type of surface they used, thin layers of silicon nitride.

"Electon beam lithography works on small scale, but it is limited down to about 10 nanometers." Drndic said. "It is not like drawing a line on a page; as an electron beam hits a material the electrons tend to scatter forward and backward, which makes it difficult to create tiny lines."

While other researchers focused on breaking small wires to create nanogaps, similar to how a fuse can be popped open, the Penn researchers went the opposite route, making the gaps directly.

"Contrary to many expectations, the thin layer of silicon nitride, which we used instead of the usual xide on silicon,helped minimize the amount of electron scattering to the point where we could make clean gaps," Fischbein said.

Just as important, these nanogaps are compatible with high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, or HRTEM. Because nanogaps are created on thin films, it is easy to study the structure through HRTEM and assess their quality.

Already, the researchers have used nanogaps to measure electrical charge through several coupled nanocrystals, which are also referred to as quantum dots. Previous researchers have demonstrated that quantum dots can be manipulated to change their physical properties, particularly their optical properties. In fact, the blue laser, which will soon be put into use in commercial products, was a result of early research in changing the colors of quantum dots.

"Nanogaps allow us to inject charge directly into individual nanocrystals, which may enable us to control their properties on a quantum level," Fischbein said. "It is a small gap, but across it we can bridge classical and quantum physics. This research was funded through grants from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the American Chemical Society.

Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI have developed a novel single-polarization Kramers-Kronig receiver scheme
16.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>