Electronic Control of Friction in Silicon pn Junctions

Science  14 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5784, pp. 186
DOI: 10.1126/science.1125017

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A remarkable dependence of the friction force on carrier concentration was found on doped silicon substrates. The sample was a nearly intrinsic n-type Si(100) wafer patterned with 2-micrometer-wide stripes of highly B-doped p-type material. The counter surface was the tip of an atomic force microscope coated with conductive titanium nitride. The local carrier concentration was controlled through application of forward or reverse bias voltages between the tip and the sample in the p and the n regions. Charge depletion or accumulation resulted in substantial differences in friction force. The results demonstrate the capability to electronically control friction in semiconductor devices, with potential applications in nanoscale machines containing moving parts.

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