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Integrated nanoparticles: an approach towards the realisation of single electron switching and memory concept

English title Integrated nanoparticles: an approach towards the realisation of single electron switching and memory concept
Applicant Mayor Marcel
Number 126108
Funding scheme NRP 62 Smart Materials
Research institution Departement Chemie Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Organic Chemistry
Start/End 01.01.2010 - 30.09.2013
Approved amount 371'446.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Organic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry

Keywords (6)

Memory Device; Supramolecular Chemistry; Nanotechnology; Electrochemical STM ; Single Particle Spectroscopy; Single Electron Transistor

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Integrated nanoparticles for future single electron units

Tiny metal particles as potentially new materials for minute electronic memory and switching elements will be developed and their potential in electronic applications
will be explored.

Very small metal particles with sizes in the range of one to two nanometers can be loaded with individual electrons at room temperature. Of particular interest for future applications are particles of unit size as both the charging energy and the splitting of the energy levels depend on the particle’s size.

Chemical processes to make such unit size particles with terminal anchor groups will be developed. Anchor groups are essential for the integration of such nanoparticles in electronic circuits. First, individual particles will be integrated between the tip and the substrate of a “scanning tunnelling” microscope (STM). In this set-up, the properties of the particles will be investigated by electro-chemical experiments providing valuable information concerning their suitability as future tiny memory or switching units. As soon as the ideal particle size has been identified by single particle experiments and their wet chemical synthesis has been developed, they have to be integrated as active component of an electronic memory or switching device.

As the physical properties of these nanoparticles have already been heavily affected by charging with one single electron, these materials should provide the potential for electronic units with the lowest possible current consumption. During the course of the research project, an increasing collaboration with partners from industry is envisaged to enable the use of these promising materials in future electronic applications.

Despite the fact that the electronic properties of nanoscale metal particles of unit size are a topic of current fundamental research, their application potential as minute switching and memory units have already become evident.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Small metal particles as bridging island integrated between two electrodes are considered to be a promising information storage device of future electronics. With dimensionalities approaching the molecular level, such systems are expected to allow the very last step in size reduction of CMOS technology. For metal clusters with diameters in the order of 1-2 nm, the single electron charging energy EC is clearly above thermal fluctuation (EC >> kBT) at room temperature, providing a single electron information storage device stable at room temperature. While the concept has been discussed already in the seventies on a theoretical basis, first proof-of-principle set-ups were reported recently. However, so far these set-ups are either profiting from powerful characterization techniques enabling to investigate the dimensions of accidentally trapped small clusters or from statistical surface functionalization of clusters followed by tedious purification and selection steps.The aim of this proposal is to develop the basic technology required for the massive parallel integration of metal particles as bridging islands. The aim consists in particular of i) the development of the chemistry required to obtain monodisperse bifunctional nanoparticles as bridging islands, ii) the integration of these nanoparticles into a two electrode junction, iii) the investigation of electronic features of these particles in various gate-controlled set-ups, ranging from macroscopic solution experiments over scanning tunnelling spectroscopy on particles incorporated in 2d matrices to single particle junctions, iv) to pave the way towards the massive parallel integration of such particles as new memory devices and v) to investigate the application and market potential of the new device in the third year of the first funding period. Even though the proposal is clearly application oriented with potential impact on both, economy and society, the remaining gap to CMOS integration of the concept justifies its declaration as "high risk - high reward" project.