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.