Dr Neil Curson of the London Centre for Nanotechnology has this month been awarded an EPSRC First Grant. The grant, of over £100k, is for a project to investigate "Nanoscale Germanium Electronics".
The aim of the proposal is to determine the feasibility of fabricating prototype atomic scale electrical devices in germanium by controllably placing dopant atoms into the surface of a germanium wafer using scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM). The research is timely as germanium has been recently rediscovered as a material for use in the semiconductor industry, because its charge carriers have a higher mobility than that of silicon.
In addition, dopants in Group IV semiconductors have been proposed for use as qubits in quantum information processing (QIP) applications such quantum computers. The ability to controllably place individual dopants in germanium will be invaluable if such QIP schemes are to be realised.
The research project has two specific scientific goals; low temperature STM spectroscopy experiments will determine the electronic nature of individual dopants in germanium while electrical transport measurements will probe the properties of buried layers of dopants whose thickness is that of a single atom. Accompanying this fundamental science will be the development of fabrication processes leading to the construction of electrical devices consisting of only a few dopants.
Figure: The ability to image and manipulate single atoms, here one hydrogen atom, will be exploited for atomic-scale device fabrication