Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carbon Nanotube Avalanche Process Nearly Doubles Current

Date:
February 12, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
By pushing carbon nanotubes close to their breaking point, researchers have demonstrated a remarkable increase in the current-carrying capacity of the nanotubes, well beyond what was previously thought possible.

Electrical and computer engineering professor Eric Pop, from left, worked with undergraduate Yang Zhao and graduate student Albert Liao, both in ECE, to demonstrate a remarkable increase in the current-carrying capacity of carbon nanotubes.
Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

By pushing carbon nanotubes close to their breaking point, researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated a remarkable increase in the current-carrying capacity of the nanotubes, well beyond what was previously thought possible.

The researchers drove semiconducting carbon nanotubes into an avalanche process that carries more electrons down more paths, similar to the way a multilane highway carries more traffic than a one-lane road.

"Single-wall carbon nanotubes are already known to carry current densities up to 100 times higher than the best metals like copper," said Eric Pop, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the U. of I. "We now show that semiconducting nanotubes can carry nearly twice as much current as previously thought."

As reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers found that at high electric fields (10 volts per micron), energetic electrons and holes can create additional electron-hole pairs, leading to an avalanche effect where the free carriers multiply and the current rapidly increases until the nanotube breaks down.

The sharp increase in current, Pop said, is due to the onset of avalanche impact ionization, a phenomenon observed in certain semiconductor diodes and transistors at high electric fields, but not previously seen in nanotubes.

While the maximum current carrying capacity for metallic nanotubes has been measured at about 25 microamps, the maximum current carrying capacity for semiconducting nanotubes is less established. Previous theoretical predictions suggested a similar limit for single-band conduction in semiconducting nanotubes.

To study current behavior, Pop, graduate student Albert Liao and undergraduate student Yang Zhao first grew single-wall carbon nanotubes by chemical vapor deposition from a patterned iron catalyst. Palladium contacts were used for measurement purposes. The researchers then pushed the nanotubes close to their breaking point in an oxygen-free environment.

"We found that the current first plateaus near 25 microamps, and then sharply increases at higher electric fields," said Pop, who also is affiliated with the Beckman Institute and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the U. of I. "We performed repeated measurements, obtaining currents of up to 40 microamps, nearly twice those of previous reports."

By inducing very high electric fields in the nanotubes, the researchers drove some of the charge carriers into nearby subbands, as part of the avalanche process. Instead of being in just one "lane," the electrons and holes could occupy several available lanes, resulting in much greater current.

The avalanche process (which cannot be observed in metallic carbon nanotubes because an energy gap is required for electron-hole multiplication) offers additional functionality to semiconducting nanotubes, Pop said. "Our results suggest that avalanche-driven devices with highly nonlinear turn-on characteristics can be fashioned from semiconducting single wall nanotubes."

Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology through the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Carbon Nanotube Avalanche Process Nearly Doubles Current." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209110644.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2009, February 12). Carbon Nanotube Avalanche Process Nearly Doubles Current. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209110644.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Carbon Nanotube Avalanche Process Nearly Doubles Current." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209110644.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Reuters - US Online Video (July 29, 2014) Passengers stuck overnight on a whale watching boat return safely to Boston. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins