Wireless Systems Design

Nanoscale Dimensions Gain Greater Visibility

The study of nanotechnology focuses on materials and devices with very unique structures. Essentially, these structures exhibit novel and significantly improved physical, electrical, chemical, and biological properties due to their nanoscale size (less than 100 nm). One day, research-ers hope to gain control of these nanoscale devices and structures at the atomic, molecular, and supra-molecular levels. They would then be able to more efficiently manufacture and use nanoscale devices in applications like coatings, bioseparation, drug-delivery systems, flat-panel displays, and fuel cells. There's just one problem: Nanotechnology is still a relatively new field of study.

In other words, researchers have very little resources. To complicate matters, it's very difficult to make the precise and often complex electrical measurements associated with nanotechnology. Keithley Instruments is working to address this problem with its Nanotech Toolkit. This offering is designed to help meet the emerging measurement needs of nanotechnology researchers. It comes with measurement software tools that can accommodate the variety of tests that is common to nanotechnology research and development.

This toolkit is an impressive undertaking, as measurements at the nanoscale level are challenging even for those who are trained in electrical measurements. In fact, many of the chemists, biologists, and physicists who work in nanotech labs have less formal training in measurement science. The Nanotech Toolkit helps such individuals by providing them with shortcuts to measurement tasks. It gives them the common routines that are typically used in testing nanotech devices.

Specifically, the Nanotech Toolkit contains icons that represent Model 4200-SCS measurement routines for testing the following: a carbon-nanotube-based transistor; bio-component; molecular transistor; molecular wire; nanowire; and nanocell. Consequently, researchers could plot the I-V (current vs. voltage) curves of carbon nanotubes and molecular transistors. They could even use the toolkit to make differential conductance measurements for high-resistance/low-resistance measurements on nanowires.

The Nanotech Toolkit and its software routines are now available at no charge. This toolkit is compatible with Keithley's Model 4200-SCS Semiconductor Characterization System. The Toolkit is distributed on a CD-Rom that also contains a collection of white papers, application notes, datasheets, and a seminar on making accurate nanotech electrical measurements. Keithley also is offering a host of published literature and technical-application tutorials that support the engineers and scientists who are developing nanoscale devices and technology. For more information on the Nanotech Toolkit or any of Keithley's other technical materials, go to www.keithley.com.

TAGS: Components
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