Scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy on Au nanoparticles assembled using lauryl amine (LAM) and octadecane thiol (ODT)

Suwarna Datar, Minakshi Chaudhari, Murali Sastry, C. V. Dharmadhikari

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In this report, we demonstrate scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy on thin films of lauryl amine (LAM) and octadecane thiol (ODT) protected gold nanoparticles. We show that the zero current in the I-V curves (measure of Coulomb blockade (CB) of the nanoparticles) depends on the properties of the spacer molecule. In both the cases the gap voltage and the tunneling current at which the images are obtained are quite different which is further confirmed from the fitting performed based on the orthodox theory. The values for the capacitance and charging energy obtained from the fitting for ODT capped particles are comparable to the values obtained using spherical capacitor model. In contrast, values of these parameters were found to differ for LAM capped nanoparticles. While imaging, ODT capped nanoparticles were observed to drag along the scan direction leading to ordering of particles. Images of LAM capped gold nanoparticles show local ordering in self-assembly of particles although no evidence of large scale ordering in spatial Fourier transform was seen. These observations suggest that nanoparticles with larger CB would be imaged nonevasively in contrast to small CB systems for which tip induced effects will be dominant. In both the systems the current was found to rise faster than theoretical curves based on the orthodox theory suggesting that mechanism of charge transfer in this case may involve field emission rather than tunneling through a rectangular barrier. An attempt has been made to explain charge transfer based on Fowler-Nordheim (F-N) plots of the I-V curves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5109-5115
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Nanostructures
  • Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM)

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