Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers peer into nanowires to measure dopant properties

03.04.2009
Semiconductor nanowires — tiny wires with a diameter as small as a few billionths of a meter — hold promise for devices of the future, both in technology like light-emitting diodes and in new versions of transistors and circuits for next generation of electronics.

But in order to utilize the novel properties of nanowires, their composition must be precisely controlled, and researchers must better understand just exactly how the composition is determined by the synthesis conditions.

Nanowires are synthesized from elements that form bulk semiconductors, whose electrical properties are in turn controlled by adding minute amounts of impurities called dopants. The amount of dopant determines the conductivity of the nanowire.

But because nanowires are so small — with diameters ranging from 3 to 100 nanometers — researchers have never been able to see just exactly how much of the dopant gets into the nanowire during synthesis. Now, using a technique called atom probe tomography, Lincoln Lauhon, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, has provided an atomic-level view of the composition of a nanowire. By precisely measuring the amount of dopant in a nanowire, researchers can finally understand the synthesis process on a quantitative level and better predict the electronic properties of nanowire devices.

The results were published online March 29 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

“We simply mapped where all the atoms were in a single nanowire, and from the map we determined where the dopant atoms were,” he says. “The more dopant atoms you have, the higher the conductivity.”

Previously, researchers could not measure the amount of dopant and had to judge the success of the synthesis based on indirect measurements of the conductivity of nanowire devices. That meant that variations in device performance were not readily explained.

“If we can understand the origin of the electrical properties of nanowires, and if we can rationally control the conductivity, then we can specify how a nanowire will perform in any type of device,” he says. “This fundamental scientific understanding establishes a basis for engineering.”

Lauhon and his group performed the research at Northwestern’s Center for Atom Probe Tomography, which uses a Local Electrode Atom ProbeTM microscope to dissect single nanowires and identify their constituents. This instrumentation software allows 3-D images of the nanowire to be generated, so Lauhon could see from all angles just how the dopant atoms were distributed within the nanowire.

In addition to measuring the dopant in the nanowire, Lauhon’s colleague, Peter Voorhees, Frank C. Engelhart Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern, created a model that relates the nanowire doping level to the conditions during the nanowire synthesis. The researchers performed the experiment using germanium wires and phosphorous dopants — and they will soon publish results using silicon — but the model provides guidance for nanowires made from other elements, as well.

“This model uses insight from Lincoln’s experiment to show what might happen in other systems,” Voorhees says. “If nanowires are going to be used in device applications, this model will provide guidance as to the conditions that will enable us to add these elements and control the doping concentrations.”

Both professors will continue working on this research to broaden the model.

“We would like to establish the general principles for doping semiconductor nanowires,” Lauhon says.

The paper is titled “Direct measurement of dopant distribution in an individual vapour-liquid-solid nanowire.” In addition to Lauhon and Voorhees, the other authors are Daniel E. Perea, Eric R. Hemesath, Edwin J. Schwalbach, and Jessica L. Lensch-Falk, all from Northwestern.

The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.

Kyle Delaney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu
http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/491

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

nachricht Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>