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Nature. 2004 Jul 22;430(6998):439-41.

Surface transfer doping of diamond.

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  • 1Institute for Technical Physics, University of Erlangen, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


The electronic properties of many materials can be controlled by introducing appropriate impurities into the bulk crystal lattice in a process known as doping. In this way, diamond (a well-known insulator) can be transformed into a semiconductor, and recent progress in thin-film diamond synthesis has sparked interest in the potential applications of semiconducting diamond. However, the high dopant activation energies (in excess of 0.36 eV) and the limitation of donor incorporation to (111) growth facets only have hampered the development of diamond-based devices. Here we report a doping mechanism for diamond, using a method that does not require the introduction of foreign atoms into the diamond lattice. Instead, C60 molecules are evaporated onto the hydrogen-terminated diamond surface, where they induce a subsurface hole accumulation and a significant rise in two-dimensional conductivity. Our observations bear a resemblance to the so-called surface conductivity of diamond seen when hydrogenated diamond surfaces are exposed to air, and support an electrochemical model in which the reduction of hydrated protons in an aqueous surface layer gives rise to a hole accumulation layer. We expect that transfer doping by C60 will open a broad vista of possible semiconductor applications for diamond.

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