Insulator-protected mechanically controlled break junctions for measuring single-molecule conductance in aqueous environments

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Abstract

We present a method to fabricate insulated gold mechanically controlled break junctions (MCBJ) by coating the metal with a thin layer of aluminum oxide using plasma enhanced atomic layer deposition. The Al2O3 thickness deposited on the MCBJ devices was varied from 2 to 15 nm to test the suppression of leakage currents in deionized water and phosphate buffered saline. Junctions coated with a 15 nm thick oxide layer yielded atomically sharp electrodes and negligible conductance counts in the range of 1 to 10-4 G0 (1 G0 = 77 μS), where single-molecule conductances are commonly observed. The insulated devices were used to measure the conductance of an amphiphilic oligophenylene ethynylene derivative in deionized water.

Original languageEnglish
Article number013102
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Volume109
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2016

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