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Apparatus and method for fabricating arrays of atomic-scale contacts and gaps between electrodes and applications thereof

United States Patent

April 18, 2006
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Nanojunction Sensors for the Detection of chemical and Biological Species
A method for forming atomic-scale contacts and atomic-scale gaps between two electrodes is disclosed. The method provides for applying a voltage between two electrodes in a circuit with a resistor. The applied voltage etches metal ions off one electrode and deposits the metal ions onto the second electrode. The metal ions are deposited on the sharpest point of the second electrode, causing the second electrode to grow towards the first electrode until an atomic-scale contact is formed. By increasing the magnitude of the resistor, the etching and deposition process will terminate prior to contact, forming an atomic-scale gap. The atomic-scale contacts and gaps formed according to this method are useful as a variety of nanosensors including chemical sensors, biosensors, hydrogen ion sensors, heavy metal ion sensors, magnetoresistive sensors, and molecular switches.
Tao; Nongjian (Phoenix, AZ), Boussaad; Salah (Tempe, AZ)
Arizona Board of Regents (Tempe, AZ)
10/ 795,151
March 4, 2004
GOVERNMENT LICENSE RIGHTS The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms Grant No. CHE-9818073 (DWA0068) awarded by the NSF and Grant No. F49620-99-1-0112 (DWJ9206) awarded by the AFOSR.