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Tracking the Formation of a Break Junction Formed by Electromigration using Transmission Electron Microscopy

J. Dong and B.A. Parviz
University of Washington, US

Keywords:
nanogap, molecular electronics, electromigration, transmission electron microscopy

Abstract:
Break junctions formed by electromigration have been extensively used in the molecular electronics and electrical characterization of atomic or molecular clusters and biological molecules such as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)1. However, to obtain a controllable gap distance with high yield has proved to be a challenging task. We present the fabrication of break junctions using electromigration on transmission electron microscope (TEM) silicon nitride membrane grids and track the morphological evolution of the junction using the TEM. Figure 1 shows the 3-D image of the final fabricated device. Each chip consists of a number of individually addressable metal nanowires positioned on a thin silicon nitride membrane. A voltage can be applied across each wire and the evolution of the wire morphology can be observed under TEM. The electrical connection allows for measurement of the conductance of the wire and hence enables correlation between atomic-scale morphology of the wire (and eventually the gap) and the observed conductance.

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