Zaborniak, Tristan

Project title: Electronic Transport in Molecular Networks

Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Chris Papadopoulos

"Modern electronics (on which digital information and communications systems depend) are based on semiconductor transistors, with transistor density being proportional to computational power. Historically, Moore’s law, which predicts a doubling in the number of transistors per integrated circuit, or chip, about every two years, has held more or less true since its 1965 formulation, though a marked plateauing has been seen in recent years. This is due to unwanted quantum mechanical tunnelling and increased power dissipation compromising the reliability and efficiency of conventional transistors as they decrease in size, as well as issues relating to their fabrication on small scales (below 10 nanometres).

One potential means of circumventing this slowing in circuit downscaling could involve the replacement of bulk-material electronic components with molecule-sized analogs. Molecules being among the smallest stable structures possible, this approach constitutes an ultimate goal in circuit miniaturization. The aim of this project is to work toward this via a two-step approach: (1) exploratory in-silico modelling, to determine the theoretical electronic properties of molecular devices and identify those of promise, and (2) molecular device fabrication and testing.

Specifically, software implementations employing Density Functional Theory on Compute Canada’s supercomputing systems will be used in calculating the electronic transport characteristics (e.g. transmission and current) of select dithiol molecule structures as a function of applied voltage, and solution-based self-assembly techniques will be used in fabricating molecular-nanoparticle networks and films based on such molecules in-situ. Characterization of these will involve using precision current-voltage source-measure units in combination with atomic force microscopy."