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Langmuir. 2013 Apr 23;29(16):5066-73. doi: 10.1021/la304971v. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Gold nanoparticles on oxide-free silicon-molecule interface for single electron transport.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75080, United States.


Two different organic monolayers were prepared on silicon Si(111) and modified for attaching gold nanoparticles. The molecules are covalently bound to silicon and form very ordered monolayers sometimes improperly called self-assembled monolayers (SAM). They are designed to be electrically insulating and to have very few electrical interface states. By positioning the tip of an STM above a nanoparticle, a double barrier tunnel junction (DBTJ) is created, and Coulomb blockade is demonstrated at 40 K. This is the first time Coulomb blockade is observed with an organic monolayer on oxide-free silicon. This work focuses on the fabrication and initial electrical characterization of this double barrier tunnel junction. The organic layers were prepared by thermal hydrosilylation of two different alkene molecules with either a long carbon chain (C11) or a shorter one (C7), and both were modified to be amine-terminated. FTIR and XPS measurements confirm that the Si(111) substrate remains unoxidized during the whole chemical process. Colloidal gold nanoparticles were prepared using two methods: either with citrate molecules (Turkevich method) or with ascorbic acid as the surfactant. In both cases AFM and STM images show a well-controlled deposition on the grafted organic monolayer. I-V curves obtained by scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS) are presented on 8 nm diameter nanoparticles and exhibit the well-known Coulomb staircases at low temperature. The curves are discussed as a function of the organic layer thickness and silicon substrate doping.

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