Selected CNTs would be burned out.
Bombardment with tightly focused electron beams has been suggested as a means of electrically disabling selected individual carbon-nanotubes (CNTs) in electronic devices. Evidence in support of the suggestion was obtained in an experiment in which a CNT field-effect transistor was disabled (see figure) by focusing a 1-keV electron beam on a CNT that served as the active channel of a field-effect transistor (FET).
According to the suggestion, by using a 1-keV electron beam (e.g., a beam from a scanning electron microscope), a particular nanotube could be rendered electrically dysfunctional. This procedure could be repeated as many times as necessary on different CNTs in a device until all of the excess CNTs in the device had been disabled, leaving only one CNT as an active element (e.g., as FET channel).
The physical mechanism through which a CNT becomes electrically disabled is not yet understood. On one hand, data in the literature show that electron kinetic energy >86 keV is needed to cause displacement damage in a CNT. On the other hand, inasmuch as a 1-keV beam focused on a small spot (typically a few tens of nanometers wide) deposits a significant amount of energy in a small volume, the energy density may suffice to thermally induce structural and/or electronic changes that disable the CNT. Research may be warranted to investigate this effect in detail.
This work was done by Mihail Petkov of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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