Carbon nanotube devices engineered by atomic force microscopy Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/fj236539f

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  • This dissertation explores the engineering of carbon nanotube electronic devices using atomic force microscopy (AFM) based techniques. A possible application for such devices is an electronic interface with individual biological molecules. This single molecule biosensing application is explored both experimentally and with computational modeling. Scanning probe microscopy techniques, such as AFM, are ideal to study nanoscale electronics. These techniques employ a probe which is raster scanned above a sample while measuring probe-surface interactions as a function of position. In addition to topographical and electrostatic/magnetic surface characterization, the probe may also be used as a tool to manipulate and engineer at the nanoscale. Nanoelectronic devices built from carbon nanotubes exhibit many exciting properties including one-dimensional electron transport. A natural consequence of one-dimensional transport is that a single perturbation along the conduction channel can have extremely large effects on the device's transport characteristics. This property may be exploited to produce electronic sensors with single-molecule resolution. Here we use AFM-based engineering to fabricate atomic-sized transistors from carbon nanotube network devices. This is done through the incorporation of point defects into the carbon nanotube sidewall using voltage pulses from an AFM probe. We find that the incorporation of an oxidative defect leads to a variety of possible electrical signatures including sudden switching events, resonant scattering, and breaking of the symmetry between electron and hole transport. We discuss the relationship between these different electronic signatures and the chemical structure/charge state of the defect. Tunneling through a defect-induced Coulomb barrier is modeled with numerical Verlet integration of Schrodinger's equation and compared with experimental results. Atomic-sized transistors are ideal for single-molecule applications due to their sensitivity to electric fields with very small detection volumes. In this work we demonstrate these devices as single-molecule sensors to detect individual N-(3-Dimethylaminopropyl)-N′-ethylcarbodiimide (EDC) molecules in an aqueous environment. An exciting application of these sensors is to study individual macromolecules participating in biological reactions, or undergoing conformational change. However, it is unknown whether the associated electrostatic signals exceed detection limits. We report calculations which reveal that enzymatic processes, such as substrate binding and internal protein dynamics, are detectable at the single-molecule level using existing atomic-sized transistors. Finally, we demonstrate the use of AFM-based engineering to control the function of nanoelectronic devices without creating a point defect in the sidewall of the nanotube. With a biased AFM probe we write charge patterns on a silicon dioxide surface in close proximity to a carbon nanotube device. The written charge induces image charges in the nearby electronics, and can modulate the Fermi level in a nanotube by ±1 eV. We use this technique to induce a spatially controlled doping charge pattern in the conduction channel, and thereby reconfigure a field-effect transistor into a pn junction. Other simple charge patterns could be used to create other devices. The doping charge persists for days and can be erased and rewritten, offering a new tool for prototyping nanodevices and optimizing electrostatic doping profiles.
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