Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Find Why Conductance of Nanowires Vary

07.02.2007
A Georgia Tech physics group has discovered how and why the electrical conductance of metal nanowires changes as their length varies.
In a collaborative investigation performed by an experimental team and a theoretical physics team, the group discovered that measured fluctuations in the smallest nanowires’ conductance are caused by a pair of atoms, known as a dimer, shuttling back and forth between the bulk electrical leads. Determining the structural properties of nanowires is a big challenge facing the future construction of nanodevices and nanotechnology. The paper appears in the January 26th issue of Physical Review Letters.

"By combining the data from the electrical conductance experiments with high-level first principles quantum mechanical calculations, we've been able to draw an accurate picture of the physical mechanisms that govern these properties. It’s like measuring current through an object you can’t see to tell you what it looks like,” said Uzi Landman, director of the Center for Computational Materials Science, Regents’ and Institute professor, and Callaway chair of physics at Georgia Tech.

Leading the experimental team, Alexei Marchenkov, assistant professor in the School of Physics, formed niobium nanowires using the mechanically controlled break junction technique – that is bending a thin nanofabricated strip of niobium until it breaks. In the final stage before the strip breaks completely, all that’s left is a nanowire made of a short chain of niobium atoms that bridge the gap between the two sides of the strip. Working at low temperatures, Marchenkov was able to hold the nanowires at successive stretching stages for many hours, long enough to perform thorough conductance measurements, and much longer than the seconds typically characteristic of this technique.

Conducting the experiment at 4.2 degrees Kelvin (far below niobium’s superconductivity transition temperature of 9.2 Kelvin), as well as performing measurements above the transition temperature, Marchenkov’s team measured the electrical conductance of the atomic nanowire as it is stretched during the bending of the strip. As this bending occurs, the atoms separate from each other. The researchers were capable of controlling this separation with a precision better than 1 picometer (one thousandth of a nanometer), which is about 100 times smaller than the typical size of atoms.

As the nanowire is slowly pulled, the conductance drops. The drop in conductance was gradual until a rapid decrease in the conductance was observed in a narrow region of just 0.1 angstrom . Upon further pulling of the wire, the conductance resumed its gradual decline.

"Focusing on this narrow region, we found that this steep drop in conductance wasn’t as smooth as it seemed at first,” said Marchenkov. “We saw that the conductance actually jumps between two values. Close to the onset of the rapid drop, the conductance was mostly rather high and then there would be random short periods were it drops to a significantly lower value. On the other side of the interval, the pattern reversed itself and mostly the low conductance values were spotted with the random occurrence of sharp spikes of high conductance,” said Marchenkov.

"That’s where the theoretical simulations come in,” said Landman. “We needed to find out what physical phenomenon would account for these sharp drops and spikes in the conductance.”

At first, the team thought a single atom must be randomly shuttling itself back and forth between two positions in the space separating the electrical leads, but the data didn’t fit. So, they tried running the simulations with a connected pair of atoms, or dimer.

"When we performed electronic structure and electrical conductance calculations on a shuttling dimer, we found good agreement with the experimentally measured conductance and its variation with the wire length,” said Landman.

When the dimer is closer to one lead, the electrons that make up the electrical current have a longer way to hop from the dimer to the other lead, making current flow more difficult. When the dimer is in the center between the leads, the distance the electrons have to hop is shorter and more manageable, allowing the current to flow better. As the wire bends more and more, the dimer begins to spend more of its time closer to one electrical lead than in the center, accounting for the overall decrease in conductance.

"Determining the structures of nanowires is a very big challenge in this field,” said Landman. “This research shows that if you make detailed measurements and analyze them theoretically, you can determine the physical structures. In this way, measurements of electronic transport can serve not only as a probe of the electronic state of nanowires but also as a microscopy of the atomic arrangements,” said Landman.

David Terraso | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physicists discover that lithium oxide on tokamak walls can improve plasma performance
22.05.2017 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan
22.05.2017 | City College of New York

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: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>