Probing Electronic Transport of Individual Nanostructures with Atomic Precision

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Abstract

Accessing individual nanostructures with atomic precision is an important process in the bottom-up fabrication and characterization of electronic nanodevices. Local electrical contacts, namely nanoelectrodes, are often fabricated by using top-down lithography and chemical etching techniques. These processes however lack atomic precision and introduce the possibility of contamination. Here, we review recent reports on the application of a field-induced emission process in the fabrication of local contacts onto individual nanowires and nanotubes with atomic spatial precision. In this method, gold nanoislands are deposited onto nanostructures precisely by using a scanning tunneling microscope tip, which provides a clean and controllable process to ensure both electrically conductive and mechanically reliable contacts. The applicability of the technique has been demonstrated in a wide variety of nanostructures, including silicide atomic wires, carbon nanotubes, and copper nanowires. These local contacts bridge the nanostructures and the transport probes, allowing for the measurements of both electrical transport and scanning tunneling microscopy on the same nanostructures in situ. The direct correlation between electronic and transport properties and atomic structures can be explored on individual nanostructures at the unprecedented atomic level.