Probing the size and density of silicon nanocrystals in nanocrystal memory device applications

Tao Feng, Hongbin Yu, Matthew Dicken, James R. Heath, Harry A. Atwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Structural characterization via transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy of arrays of small Si nanocrystals embedded in SiO2, important to many device applications, is usually difficult and fails to correctly resolve nanocrystal size and density. We demonstrate that scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) imaging enables a much more accurate measurement of the ensemble size distribution and array density for small Si nanocrystals in SiO2, estimated to be 2-3 nm and 4× 1012 -3× 1013 cm-2, respectively, in this study. The reflection high energy electron diffraction pattern further verifies the existence of nanocrystallites in SiO2. The present STM results enable nanocrystal charging characteristics to be more clearly understood: we find the nanocrystal charging measurements to be consistent with single charge storage on individual Si nanocrystals. Both electron tunneling and hole tunneling processes are suggested to explain the asymmetric chargingdischarging processes as a function of bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number033103
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 17 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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