Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

D Yogi Goswami

Co-Major Professor

Elias Stefanakos


energy harvesting, printable electronics, rectenna, SAM, tunnel diode


In this study, we explore ultra-thin insulators of organic and inorganic composition and their potential role as high-speed rectifiers. Typical applications for these structures include IR sensing, chemical detection, high speed logic circuits, and MEMS enhancements. While there are many elements in the functional group required to create a rectifying antenna (rectenna), the primary thrust of this work is on the rectifier element itself.

To achieve these research goals, a very good understanding of quantum tunneling was required to model the underlying phenomenon of charge conduction. The development of a multi-variable optimization routine for tunneling prediction was required. MATLAB was selected as the programming language for this application because of its flexibility and relative ease of use for simulation purposes. Modeling of physical processes, control of electromechanical systems, and simulation of ion implantation were also to be undertaken.

To advance the process science, a lithographic mask set was made which utilized the information gleaned from the theoretical simulations and initial basic experiments to create a number of diode test structures. This came to include the creation of generations of mask sets--each optimizing various parameters including testability, alignment, contact area, device density, and process ease. Following this work, a complete toolset for the creation of "soft" contact top metals was required and needed to be developed. Ultra-flat substrates were needed to improve device reliability and measurement consistency.

The final phase of research included measurement and characterization of the resultant structures. Basic DC electrical characterization of the organic monolayers would be accomplished using metal probes. Statistical studies of reliability and process yield could then easily be carried out. The rectification ratio (ratio of forward over reverse current at a given voltage magnitude) was found to be a reliable indicator of diode performance in the low frequency ranges. This would mean writing additional code in MATLAB to assist in the automatic analysis for the acquired IV curves. Progression to AC / RF measurements of tunneling performance was to be accomplished using relatively low frequencies (below 100 MHz). Finally, the organic films themselves would be studied for consistency, impedance characteristics, incidence of defects, and thickness by a variety of metrology techniques.

This project resulted in a number of advances to the state-of-the-art in nanofabrication using organic monolayers. A very detailed review of the state of alkanethiol research was presented and submitted for publication. A single pot technique was developed to softly deposit metal nanoparticles onto a charged surface with a high degree of control. A temporary contact method using pure, sub-cooled gallium liquid metal was used to probe organic monolayers and plot IV curves with better understanding of surface states than before. An inkjet printer solution was devised for top contact printing which involved the development and production of a work-up free insulator ink which is water soluble and printable to resolutions of about 25 um. Localized selective chemical crosslinking was found to reduce printed ink solubility following deposition. Future work will likely include additional exploration of crosslinkable Langmuir-Blodgett films as MIM insulators. Stability and testing will hinge on the fabrication of enclosures or packages for environmental isolation.