Fabrication of an on-chip nanowire device with controllable nanogap for manipulation, capturing, and electrical characterization of nanoparticles
Demir, Hilmi Volkan
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One of the major challenges in nanofabrication commonly arises from the necessity to integrate nanostructures (e.g., nanoparticles) on the same chip with microcomponents (e.g., microelectrodes) that are orders-of-magnitude larger in size. For example, in order to make electrical contacts to colloidally synthesized nanoparticles (typically 1-100 nm in size) by integrating them with microelectrodes (typically in the few micrometers range on the critical side), a large size mismatch that easily ranges from 1:10 to 1:10,000 is required to be handled delicately for successful nano-to-micro integration. This necessitates the ability to manipulate and integrate nanoparticles with a sufficient level of precision on the microchip. In this thesis, to provide a convenient solution to this challenging problem, we proposed and demonstrated for the first time an onchip nanowire device that features a controllable nanogap in its architecture for capturing and electrical characterization of nanoparticles in the gap, all fully integrated on the same microchip. Our innovative approach relies on the use of dielectrophoretic electric-field assisted self-assembly of our segmented nanowires to construct a nanoscale device platform. For this purpose, we synthesized gold-silver-gold segmented nanowires and dielectrophoretically aligned them across our microfabricated array of electrodes. Subsequently, we selectively removed the middle silver segment to open a gap in the nanometer size between the self-aligned gold end segments. Using dielectrophoretic assembly once more, we captured nanoparticles in these nanogaps for further electrical characterization. One of the key benefits in our approach was that the aligned nanowires automatically provided electrical contacts to the captured nanoparticles to allow for electrical probing at the nanoscale. Our innovative approach enabled convenient full integration from nanoparticles to nanowires to microelectrodes to macroprobes on a single chip, spanning a size range of more than six orders of magnitude.