"If we can understand the origin of the electrical properties of nanowires, and if we can rationally control the conductivity, then we can specify how a nanowire will perform in any type of device," he says. "This fundamental scientific understanding establishes a basis for engineering."
Lauhon and his group performed the research at Northwestern's Center for Atom Probe Tomography, which uses a Local Electrode Atom ProbeTM microscope to dissect single nanowires and identify their constituents. This instrumentation software allows 3-D images of the nanowire to be generated, so Lauhon could see from all angles just how the dopant atoms were distributed within the nanowire.
In addition to measuring the dopant in the nanowire, Lauhon's colleague, Peter Voorhees, Frank C. Engelhart Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern, created a model that relates the nanowire doping level to the conditions during the nanowire synthesis. The researchers performed the experiment using germanium wires and phosphorous dopants and they will soon publish results using silicon but the model provides guidance for nanowires made from other elements, as well.
"This model uses insight from Lincoln's experiment to show what might happen in other systems," Voorhees says. "If nanowires are going to be used in device applications, this model will provide guidance as to the conditions that will enable us to add these elements and control the doping concentrations."
Both professors will continue working on this research to broaden the model.
"We would like to establish the general principles for doping semiconductor nanowires," Lauhon says.
|Contact: Kyle Delaney|