Negative Differential Resistance on the Atomic Scale: Implications for Atomic Scale Devices

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Science  22 Sep 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4924, pp. 1369-1371
DOI: 10.1126/science.245.4924.1369


Negative differential resistance (NDR) is the essential property that allows fast switching in certain types of electronic devices. With scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and scanning tunneling spectroscopy, it is shown that the current-voltage characteristics of a diode configuration consisting of an STM tip over specific sites of a boron-exposed silicon(111) surface exhibit NDR. These NDR-active sites are of atomic dimensions (∼1 nanometer). NDR in this case is the result of tunneling through localized, atomic-like states. Thus, desirable device characteristics can be obtained even on the atomic scale.