Building Systems for Electronic Probing of Single Low Dimensional Nano-objects : Application to Molecular Electronics and Defect Induced Graphene

Abstract: Nano-objects have unique properties due to their sizes, shapes and structure. When electronic properties of such nano-objects are used to build devices, the control of interfaces at atomic level is required. In this thesis, systems were built that can not only electrically characterize nano-objects, but also allow to analyze a large number of individual nano-objects statistically at the example of graphene and nanoparticle-molecule-nanoelectrode junctions. An in-situ electrical characterization system was developed for the analysis of free standing graphene sheets containing defects created by an acid treatment. The electrical characterization of several hundred sheets revealed that the resistance in acid treated graphene sheets decreased by 50 times as compared to pristine graphene and is explained by the presence of di-vacancy defects. However, the mechanism of defect insertion into graphene is different when graphene is bombarded with a focused ion beam and in this case, the resistance of graphene increases upon defect insertion. The defect insertion becomes even stronger at liquid N2 temperature. A molecular electronics platform with excellent junction properties was fabricated where nanoparticle-molecule chains bridge 15-30nm nanoelectrodes. This approach enabled a systematic evaluation of junctions that were assembled by functionalizing electrode surfaces with alkanethiols and biphenyldithiol. The variations in the molecular device resistance were several orders of magnitude and explained by variations in attachment geometries of molecules.  The spread of resistance values of different devices was drastically reduced by using a new functionalization technique that relies on coating of gold nanoparticles with trityl protected alkanedithiols, where the trityl group was removed after trapping of nanoparticles in the electrode gap. This establishment of a reproducible molecular electronics platform enabled the observation of vibrations of a few molecules by inelastic tunneling spectroscopy. Thus this system can be used extensively to characterize molecules as well as build devices based on molecules and nanoparticles.