Thursday, October 12, 2000
We are approaching a limit to the size of electronic devices ¾the
atomic level. Uzi Landman, director of the Georgia Tech Center for Computational
Materials Science, is providing clues about how these small-scale devices will
work by conducting research on the properties of silicon nanowires a few atoms
Results of Landman's work help us understand how quantum mechanics
affects materials on this small scale, which will help engineers design
tomorrow's electronic devices. "Our trade secret is simulations of such
nano-scale devices and prediction of methods for their preparation," says
The Georgia Tech research team simulated silicon nanowires etched
from bulk silicon clusters containing 24 atoms of silicon. The experiments
produced data on the nanowires' electrical conductance, the influence of a
silicon-metal interface, and the role that doping with aluminum atoms has in
changing material properties.
Among the findings of the research are theories about overcoming
some of the anticipated problems involved in doping the silicon used in small
electronic devices. Doping of semiconductors is routinely used for tuning and
optimizing device characteristics. However, in nanoscale devices, it's
reasonable to expect large variations of dopant concentrations from device to
device. Designers need to be aware of these variations for determining the
performance of such devices, according to Landman, who believes nanowires made
from silicon clusters could offer a solution.
For more information on Landman's research, e-mail Uzi.Landman@physics.gatech.edu
or call (404) 894-3368.