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Title: Inelastic electron tunnelling spectroscopy using nanoscale tunnel junctions
Author: Hamidizadeh, Yasaman
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 8360
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2014
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Inelastic Electron Tunnelling Spectroscopy (IETS) [1-5] provides a means to characterise the phonon spectrum of a molecule by measuring the phonon-assisted tunnelling current through a potential barrier impregnated with target molecules. Traditionally, this technique has used Metal - Insulator - Metal (MIM) junctions, and the molecules of interest are adsorbed on to the insulator during junction fabrication. At low applied voltage V, tunnelling through the barrier is elastic. However, inelastic tunnelling caused by electron interaction with vibrational states in the adsorbed molecules can create additional conduction channels, occurring when V reaches a value of hω/e, where ω is a molecular vibrational mode. These lead to peaks in the d^2 I / dV^2 vs. V characteristics for each additional channel, giving a spectrum of the molecular vibration modes. As energy separations in the vibrational spectrum are relatively small compared to the electronic spectrum, the full vibrational spectrum is measured only at T < 30K. However, it may be possible to measure part of the spectrum even at room temperature, raising the possibility of a molecular detector. This project is concerned with fabricating nanoscale tunnel junctions based on Si nanowires (NWs) made by electron-beam lithography (EBL), for the purpose of IETS measurements, at 300K. A Si/SiO2 tunnel barrier/Al structure is used, where the Al NW crosses an oxidised Si NW. This allows the fabrication of tunnel junctions down to 50nm x 120nm in area and tunnelling occurs across a 10nm thick SiO2 layer. The reduction in device dimensions to the nanoscale may increase the sensitivity of the device to molecules adsorbed on the tunnel junction. Furthermore, the use of Silicon on insulator (SOI) material allows modulation of the tunnel junction using the back gate formed by the SOI substrate, control the Fermi energy and electron concentration in the NW, and hence the IETS characteristics of the device. In principle, an IETS sensor may be possible using such a configuration. In principle, a switchable IETS measurements are performed at 300K for ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH), acetic acid (CH3COOH), and propionic acid (C3H6O2) molecules. The I-V , dI/dV - V , and d2^I/dV^2-V characteristics of the tunnel junction are measured before and after the adsorption of molecules on the junction using vapour treatment or immersion. Peaks can be observed in the d^2I/dV^2-V characteristics in all the cases following molecules adsorption. These peaks may be attributed to vibrational modes of N-H and C-H bonds. Simulation of IETS characteristics modelled based on a combination of elastic, inelastic tunnelling and Schottky barriers at the Si / SiO2 / Al interface in the device. A comparison has been made between the simulation results and experimental measurements which showed very good agreement. This device modelling can be used to predict experimental characteristics and allow thermal broadening of the IETS peaks to be investigated.
Supervisor: Durrani, Zahid Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available