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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Jul 6;99(1):017601. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

Understanding sub-20 nm breakdown behavior of liquid dielectrics.

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Department of Microelectronics Photonics, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA.


Nanoscale confinement of dielectric molecules is expected to influence their breakdown mechanism in applications such as nanoprobe based machining, molecular electronics, and other related technologies. This Letter presents the first experimental study of the breakdown of nonpolar, nonthiolated liquid dielectrics in the nanometer regime and develops a field emission assisted avalanche based approach to model such behavior. The studies show that dielectric breakdown in the sub-20 nm regime is independent of the cathode materials and is dominated by the electron emission and atomic cluster migration due to the "sub-20 nm scale confinement of the liquid dielectric."

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