Coulomb blockade phenomenon in ultra-thin gold nanowires
Ultra-thin gold nanowires with uniform diameters of 2 nm and lengths of over 100 μm are synthesized via the reduction of gold(III) chloride in an oleylamine matrix. The gold nanowires, dispersed on an oxidized substrate, are top-contacted with metallic electrodes to manufacture back gated transistors. We investigate the transport properties in the fabricated devices as a function of the gate voltage, the bias voltage, and the temperature. The nonlinear current-bias voltage characteristics from 7 K up to 300 K are well described by the Coulomb blockade model in a nearly one-dimensional quantum dot array (which results from the gold nanowires’ thermal fragmentation into a granular material). Our results support a picture in which the electronic transport is governed by sequential tunneling at an applied bias above the global Coulomb blockade threshold, whereas in the Coulomb blockade regime, inelastic cotunneling is dominant up to 70 K, at which point it crosses over to activated behavior. The current dependence on the gate voltage that shows irregular oscillations is well explained by the superimposition of Coulomb oscillation patterns generated by each different dot in the one-dimensional array. We find that the competitive effects of excitation energy and stochastic Coulomb blockade balance the number of current peaks observed.