The Nanoelectronic Device Metrology Project will develop the required measurement infrastructure and scientific knowledge-base to address technology barriers and enable the successful development and subsequent manufacture of next-generation information processing nanoelectronic technologies.
Nanoscale electronic devices, with components on the billionth-of-a-meter scale, represent one of the most active fields of electronics research. The Nanoelectronic Device Metrology project aims to develop new measuring techniques and standards that are crucial in the effort to develop these technologies to the point where commercial applications become feasible. The work involves determining critical measurement-taking needs, such as a reliable way to measure the electrical properties of small ensembles of molecules. Ultimately, this project will yield a toolbox of measurement methods that will allow engineers to relate the performance of nanoelectronic devices to the structures and properties of the materials of which they are made.
Throughout its history, the semiconductor industry has constantly aimed to build information-processing devices that deliver higher performance and greater information storage density, while costing less and using less power. Continuation of this trend requires new breakthroughs, and the industry is looking to move beyond the current standard of integrated circuits built using complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology.
Current CMOS-based circuits are already considered by some researchers as a type of nanoelectronics, with dimensions of a few dozen nanometers and research ongoing to shrink them further. But right now, the main challenge in moving CMOS forward is making the circuits faster, which involves determining how to regulate their power consumption.
Researchers aiming to develop the field of nanoelectronics are therefore investigating how to exploit the properties of materials at the nanoscale in order to achieve this goal.
NIST scientists are deeply involved in a wide range of nanoelectronics research. The goal of the Nanoelectronics Device Metrology (NEDM) project is a fundamental one. Project scientists are developing a total metrology package -- a set of new tools, tests, and methods for the coming age of nanoelectronics -- that will help nanotechnologies enter the marketplace more quickly. Such a large task is well suited to NIST's uniquely broad expertise and experimental capabilities.
The NEDM Project has four major goals: to develop tests and methods to accurately measure the electrical properties of small groups of molecules, ensembles that are the basis of an emerging class of minuscule circuits known as molecular electronics; to develop the metrology for research into silicon-based nanoelectronics; to develop advanced measurement techniques for the very small capacitances typical of nanoelectronic devices; and to devise measurement techniques to help with the development of organic spintronics and other alternative technologies.
•Created molecule assemblies on a silicon surface, a step toward CMOS-compatible molecular electronics
•Demonstrated innovative approach to fabricate high-performance silicon nanowire field-effect transistors
•Used inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy to study a novel device called a "molecular spin-valve" that combines molecular electronics and spintronics
•Created powerful test-structures for self-assembled semiconductor nanowires
•Developed innovative, multi-purpose technique to study devices with metal/monolayer/silicon structures
•Demonstrated enhanced electrostatic control of two-dimensional nanostructures