Published 2005 .
Written in EnglishRead online
The DC electrical properties of disordered films of gold nanoparticles (Au-NPs) separated by insulating molecules (alkane dithiol, CnS2), are investigated. The properties of these disordered, nanostructured materials are found to interpolate between those of an insulator and those of a metal. As such, these films serve as a useful testbed to explore phenomena that drive the transition from insulator to metal.One way to drive this transition from insulator to metal to insulator is the reduction of inter NP spacing. As n of C nS2 linker molecules is reduced, the NPs are brought closer and closer to one another. When n is reduced from 5 to 4 the temperature dependence of conductance switches from insulating to metallic like. Another way exploits a dependence of film properties on percolation phenomena. For short (n = 4) molecules we have observed a percolation driven transition from insulating to metallic like behavior governed by competition between thermally activated transport mechanisms and metallic like transport. As more NPs are added to the film connected clusters grow larger and larger until one such cluster spans the gap between the measurement electrodes. Above this "percolation threshold" conductance can be dominated by metallic like contributions from these well connected NPs. At low temperatures small energy barriers between many-NP clusters can lead to single electron charging phenomena such as coulomb blockade. The electrical behaviors have been considered in terms of a Mott-Hubbard metal insulator transition and effective medium percolation theory.
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