ELECTRICAL MEASUREMENTS AT THE MICRO SCALE: AIR BREAKDOWN AND Si COULOMB BLOCKADE DEVICES
hourdakis, emmanouel spyros
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In this thesis I describe the work performed in two different areas of research, electrical breakdown of air for small electrode separations and measurements of silicon (Si)-based tunable-barrier single electron transistors (SETs). In this work, I describe a new method for measuring the breakdown of air for the range of electrode separation of interest. This method has several advantages compared to ones found in the literature, namely it allows for a measurement of electrode separation before each breakdown measurement; it has a parallel plate geometry and the surface roughness of the electrodes used is very small. Using the results obtained with this method I have made a quantitative comparison between the predictions of the standard theory of the field (field emission of electrons) and our data, something that has not been done before. In this thesis I describe analytically both the theory and the analysis of our data. I conclude that the standard theory used in this field fails for the range of electrode separations of interest (400 nm to 45 μm). Also, I describe electrical measurements performed on a Si-based tunable-barrier device fabricated in the group of Neil Zimmerman at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) using the fabrication facilities of Cornell University. I demonstrate that this device can be operated as an SET. I continue by describing measurements of the charge offset drift (Q0(t)) for this device and show that it is almost 3 orders of magnitude smaller than in metal devices, and comparable to previously measured Si devices of this type. All of the previously measured devices originated from the same fabrication source, NTT, Japan. Our ability to demonstrate the same low drift in devices fabricated at Cornell, USA, indicates that the small values of Q0(t) is a robust property of Si-based devices, and not sensitive to the details of fabrication.