Using chemistry for electronics and vice versa

Jul 06, 2005

The microelectronics industry is continually striving to miniaturize conventional silicon-based electronic devices to provide higher performance technology that can be housed in smaller packaging.

Progress resulting from this miniaturization is evident from the rapid advances in consumer electronics, such as cell phones and laptop computers, that have been observed in recent years. Now, silicon-based molecular electronics -- a complementary technology to conventional microelectronics that could scale down electronic devices to the nanometer length scale -- may provide the next breakthrough in miniaturization.

"Molecular electronics offers the potential of utilizing individual organic molecules for electronic device applications," said Mark Hersam, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. "A single molecule device likely represents the ultimate scalability of electronic technology."

Hersam and graduate students Nathan Guisinger and Nathan Yoder recently reported their research advances in silicon-based molecular electronics as the cover article of the June 21, 2005 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org/cgi/content/short/102/25/8838).

In this work, a custom built cryogenic variable temperature ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscope was utilized for imaging and probing individual organic molecules on silicon. At the cryogenic temperature of 80 Kelvin, the precision of these measurements surpassed previous efforts accomplished at room temperature. With this unprecedented data, the design constraints for silicon-based molecular electronic devices have been refined, Hersam said.

In an interesting twist, this study has also provided insight into the chemical and electronic structure of organic molecules mounted on silicon substrates. While the Northwestern study initially intended to use novel chemistry to improve electronics, the resulting molecular electronic device has also provided unique insight into the fundamentals of surface chemistry. In this manner, the work is likely to have impact in other fields, such as sensing, catalysis, and lubrication, where surface chemistry plays an active role. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office and NASA.

Source: Northwestern University

Explore further: Penn physicists honored for work that could take heat out of computing

Related Stories

Short-term debt and depressive symptoms may go hand-in-hand

30 minutes ago

Results to be published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues suggest that having short-term household debt—credit cards and overdue bills—increases depressive symptoms. The association is particularly strong among ...

See flower cells in 3-D—no electron microscopy required

31 minutes ago

Scientists require high-resolution imaging of plant cells to study everything from fungal infections to reproduction in maize. These images are captured with scanning electron microscopy (SEM), where an electron ...

Viruses: You've heard the bad—here's the good

34 minutes ago

"The word, virus, connotes morbidity and mortality, but that bad reputation is not universally deserved," said Marilyn Roossinck, PhD, Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology and Biology at the Pennsylvania ...

Recommended for you

Bringing high-energy particle detection in from the cold

17 hours ago

Radiation detectors, which monitor high-energy particles such as those produced by nuclear decay and cosmic radiation, are being used increasingly in medical imaging, petroleum well logging, astronomy and ...

Artificial muscles created from gold-plated onion cells

17 hours ago

Just one well-placed slice into a particularly pungent onion can send even the most seasoned chef running for a box of tissues. Now, this humble root vegetable is proving its strength outside the culinary ...

Image: Into the depths of the electromagnetic spectrum

18 hours ago

It can be difficult in our everyday lives to appreciate the extraordinary range of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. Electromagnetic radiation—from radio waves to visible light to x-rays—travels ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.