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

bon nanotube-based device technology," Espinosa said.

The team used a carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical switch as a platform to study failure modes and investigate potential solutions.

"This switch shares operating principles, and thus failure modes, with numerous reported devices," said Owen Loh, a graduate student in Espinosa's lab. "In this way, we hope the results will be broadly applicable."

First, the team conducted a parametric study of the design space of devices using conventional metal electrodes. This enabled identification of the point of onset of the various failure modes within the design space and highlighted the highly limited region in which the devices would function reliably without failure. They then used computational models to explain the underlying mechanisms for the experimentally-observed modes of failure.

"Using these models, we can replicate the geometry of the devices tested and ultimately explain why they fail," said Xiaoding Wei, a post-doctoral fellow in Espinosa's lab.

The team then demonstrated that using alternative electrode materials like diamond-like carbon could greatly improve the reliability of these devices. They repeated a similar parametric study using diamond-like carbon electrodes rather than metal thin films and found a dramatic improvement in device robustness. This enabled reliable switching of the carbon nanotube-based devices through numerous cycles, as well as application to the volatile storage of binary "0" and "1" states.


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Contact: Kyle Delaney
k-delaney@northwestern.edu
847-467-4010
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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