Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Physics (PhD)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Physics
Recently nanoscale junctions consisting of 0-D nanostructures (single molecule) or 1-D nanostructures (semiconducting nanowire) sandwiched between two metal electrodes are successfully fabricated and characterized. What lacks in the recent developments is the understanding of the mechanism behind the observed phenomena at the level of atoms and electrons. For example, the origin of observed switching effect in a semiconducting nanowire due to the influence of an external gate bias is not yet understood at the electronic structure level. On the same context, different experimental groups have reported different signs in tunneling magneto-resistance for the same organic spin valve structure, which has baffled researchers working in this field. In this thesis, we present the answers to some of these subtle questions by investigating the charge and spin transport in different nanoscale junctions. A parameter-free, single particle Green’s function approach in conjunction with a posteriori density functional theory (DFT) involving a hybrid orbital dependent functional is used to calculate the tunneling current in the coherent transport limit. The effect of spin polarization is explicitly incorporated to investigate spin transport in a nanoscale junction. Through the electron transport studies in PbS nanowire junction, a new orbital controlled mechanism behind the switching of the current is proposed. It can explain the switching behavior, not only in PbS nanowire, but in other lead-chalcogenide nanowires as well. Beside this, the electronic structure properties of this nanowire are studied using periodic DFT. The quantum confinement effect was investigated by calculating the bandgap of PbS nanowires with different diameters. Subsequently, we explain an observed semiconducting to metallic phase transition of this nanowire by calculating the bandgap of the nanowire under uniform radial strain. The compressive radial strain on the nanowire was found to be responsible for the metallic to semiconducting phase transition.
Apart from studying one dimensional nanostructure, we also present transport properties in zero dimensional single molecular junctions. We proposed a new codoping approach in a single molecular carborane junction, where a cation and an anion are simultaneously doped to find the role of a single atom in the device. The main purpose was to build a molecular junction where a single atom can dictate the flow of electrons in a circuit. Recent observations of both positive and negative sign in tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) the using same organic spin-valve structure hasmystified researchers. From our spin dependent transport studies in a prototypical organic molecular tunneling device, we found that a 3% change in metal-molecule interfacial distance can alter the sign of TMR. Changing the interfacial distance by 3%, the number of participating eigenstates as well as their orbital characteristic changes for anti-parallel configuration of the magnetization at the two electrodes, leading to the sign reversal of the TMR. Apart from this, the magnetic proximity effect under applied bias is investigated quantitatively, which can be used to understand the observed unexpectedmagnetismin carbon basedmaterials when they are in close proximity with magnetic substrates.
Mandal, Subhasish, "Charge and spin transport in nanoscale junction from first principles", Dissertation, Michigan Technological University, 2012.