Unprecedented efficient electron transport across Au nanoparticles with up to 25-nm insulating SiO2-shells

Chuanping Li, Chen Xu, David Cahen, Yongdong Jin

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Quantum tunneling is the basis of molecular electronics, but often its electron transport range is too short to overcome technical defects caused by downscaling of electronic devices, which limits the development of molecular-/nano-electronics. Marrying electronics with plasmonics may well present a revolutionary way to meet this challenge as it can manipulate electron flow with plasmonics at the nanoscale. Here we report on unusually efficient temperature-independent electron transport, with some photoconductivity, across a new type of junction with active plasmonics. The junction is made by assembly of SiO2 shell-insulated Au nanoparticles (Au@SiO2 NPs) into dense nanomembranes of a few Au@SiO2 layers thick and transport is measured across these membranes. We propose that the mechanism is plasmon-enabled transport, possibly tunneling (as it is temperature-independent). Unprecedentedly ultra-long-range transport across one, up to even three layers of Au@SiO2 in the junction, with a cumulative insulating (silica) gap up to 29 nm/NP layer was achieved, well beyond the measurable limit for normal quantum mechanical tunneling across insulators (~2.5 nm at 0.5–1 V). This finding opens up a new interdisciplinary field of exploration in nanoelectronics with wide potential impact on such areas as electronic information transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18336
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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© 2019, The Author(s).


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