Using chemistry for electronics and vice versa

July 6, 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: Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods

Related Stories

Chemical reactions 'filmed' at the single-molecule level

March 22, 2017

Scientists have succeeded in 'filming' inter-molecular chemical reactions – using the electron beam of a transmission electron microscope (TEM) as a stop-frame imaging tool. They have also discovered that the electron beam ...

Chemists ID catalytic 'key' for converting CO2 to methanol

March 23, 2017

Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and converting it to useful chemicals such as methanol could reduce both pollution and our dependence on petroleum products. So scientists are intensely interested in the catalysts that facilitate ...

Recommended for you

Zika virus protein mapped to speed search for cure

March 27, 2017

A study published today shows how Indiana University scientists are speeding the path to new treatments for the Zika virus, an infectious disease linked to birth defects in infants in South and Central America and the United ...

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

March 27, 2017

Researchers at Aalto University have manufactured artificial materials with engineered electronic properties. By moving individual atoms under their microscope, the scientists were able to create atomic lattices with a predetermined ...

Researchers link orphan receptor to opioid-induced itching

March 27, 2017

Opioids have long been an important tool in the world of pain management, but the side effects of these drugs - from addiction and respiratory failure to severe itching and dizziness, can be overwhelming. Scientists have ...

Timing a space laser with a NASA-style stopwatch

March 27, 2017

To time how long it takes a pulse of laser light to travel from space to Earth and back, you need a really good stopwatch—one that can measure within a fraction of a billionth of a second.

Stars born in winds from supermassive black holes

March 27, 2017

Observations using ESO's Very Large Telescope have revealed stars forming within powerful outflows of material blasted out from supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies. These are the first confirmed observations ...

0 comments

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.