How can we make nanoscale capacitors even smaller?

Oct 12, 2006

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have discovered what limits our ability to reduce the size of capacitors, often the largest components in integrated circuits, down to the nanoscale. They have answered a 45-year old question: why is the capacitance in thin–film capacitors so much smaller than expected?

Because there is great interest in increased portability in consumer electronics, researchers are continually searching for ways to reduce the size of electronic devices, but capacitors have proved particularly problematic. Researchers have tried to use high-permittivity materials to achieve more capacitance in a smaller area, but nanoscale devices have yielded lower-than-expected capacitance values. These low values have limited the performance of thin-film capacitors and prevented further device miniaturization.

Nicola Spaldin, a professor in the Materials Department of the College of Engineering, and her collaborator, post-doctoral researcher Massimiliano Stengel, used quantum mechanical calculations to prove that a so-called "dielectric dead layer" at the metal-insulator interface is responsible for the observed capacitance reduction.

Spaldin and Stengel explain, in the October 12 issue of Nature, that the fundamental quantum mechanical properties of the interfaces are the root cause of the problem, and show that metals with good screening properties can be used to improve the properties. "Our results provide practical guidelines for minimizing the deleterious effects of the dielectric dead layer in nanoscale devices," they say.

Source: UC Santa Barbara

Explore further: Better memory with faster lasers

Related Stories

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene

Dec 10, 2014

Researchers at Rice University have created flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene from a cheap polymer by burning it with a computer-controlled laser. The process works in air at room temperature ...

Researchers make 'nanospinning' practical

Nov 20, 2012

Nanofibers—strands of material only a couple hundred nanometers in diameter—have a huge range of possible applications: scaffolds for bioengineered organs, ultrafine air and water filters, and lightweight ...

Recommended for you

Better memory with faster lasers

Jul 02, 2015

DVDs and Blu-ray disks contain so-called phase-change materials that morph from one atomic state to another after being struck with pulses of laser light, with data "recorded" in those two atomic states. ...

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.