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Using new materials to make more reliable nanoelectromechanical systems
Date:12/7/2010

Given their outstanding mechanical and electrical properties, carbon nanotubes are attractive building blocks for next-generation nanoelectromechanical devices, including high-performance sensors, logic devices, and memory elements. However, manufacturing challenges associated with creating well-ordered arrays of individual carbon nanotubes and the nanotube-devices' prevalent failure modes have prevented any large-scale commercial use.

Now, researchers at Northwestern University, the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and Binghamton University have found a way to dramatically improve the reliability of carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical systems. Their results are published in the journal Small.

"Depending on their geometry, these devices have a tendency to stick shut, burn or fracture after only a few cycles," said Horacio Espinosa, James N. and Nancy J. Professor in the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University. "This significantly limits any practical application of such nano devices. Our discovery may be a key to advancing carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical systems from laboratory-scale demonstrations to viable and attractive alternatives to many of our current microelectronic devices."

To date, carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical devices have ubiquitously used metal, thin-film electrodes. The Northwestern University group in collaboration with SANDIA investigators replaced these electrodes with electrodes made from diamond-like carbon (an electrically-conductive and mechanical robust material), which suppressed the onset of failure. This enabled them to demonstrate the first example of nanoelectromechanical devices constructed from individual CNTs switching reliably over numerous cycles and apply this functionality to memory elements that store binary states.

"This represents a significant step in the maturation of car
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Contact: Kyle Delaney
k-delaney@northwestern.edu
847-467-4010
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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