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December 07, 2010

Using new diamond-like materials to make more reliable nanoelectromechanical systems

Researchers at Northwestern University, the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and Binghamton University have found a way to dramatically improve the reliability of carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical (NEMS) systems. Their results are published in the journal Small.

* NEMS have a tendency to stick shut, burn or fracture after only a few cycles.

* To date, carbon nanotube-based nanoelectromechanical devices have ubiquitously used metal, thin-film electrodes

* They replaced these electrodes with electrodes made from diamond-like carbon (an electrically-conductive and mechanical robust material), which suppressed the onset of failure



The team then demonstrated that using alternative electrode materials like diamond-like carbon could greatly improve the reliability of these devices. They repeated a similar parametric study using diamond-like carbon electrodes rather than metal thin films and found a dramatic improvement in device robustness. This enabled reliable switching of the carbon nanotube-based devices through numerous cycles, as well as application to the volatile storage of binary “0” and “1” states.

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