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Charging of gold/metal oxide/gold nanocapacitors in a scanning electron microscope
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Triangular parallel-plate nanocapacitors were fabricated by a combination of microsphere lithography and physical vapor deposition. The devices were comprised of a 20 nm layer of dielectric material sandwiched between two 20 nm layers of gold. Dielectric materials with a range of relative permittivities were investigated. Charging of the capacitors was probed in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) by monitoring the change in brightness of the images of the devices as a function of time. The time constants, RC, associated with the charging of the capacitors, were extracted from the SEM grayscale data. The resulting average RC values were 248 ± 27 s for SiO2, 70 ± 8 s for Al2O3, 113 ± 80 s for ZnO and 125 ± 13 s for HfO2. These values are consistent with the anticipated RC values based on the resistivities and permittivities of the materials used in the devices and importantly, were measured without the need to attach any wires or leads.