Engineering at the Limits of the Nanoscale

Seminar | March 23 | 4-5 p.m. | Soda Hall, HP Auditorium (306)

 Farnaz Niroui, Ph.D. Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

At the nanoscale, unique properties and phenomena emerge that can lead to scientific and technological paradigms beyond those classically envisioned. Exploring these opportunities at the few-nanometer regime requires unprecedented precision, resolution and control, not readily feasible through conventional processing and metrology techniques. In particular, the dynamic, reliable and reversible structural tuning of such small dimensions remains a great challenge, yet a promising platform to enable nanosystems of new and improved functionalities.
This talk will introduce an approach to achieve nanometer precision, resolution and control in fabrication and tunability by engineering surfaces and surface adhesive forces. In this scheme, molecular layers are utilized as nanoscale springs in which conformational changes in response to an applied electrostatic force allow controlled and reversible tuning of the architecture. As a case study, the use of this mechanism in developing tunneling-based nanoelectromechanical switches composed of an electromechanically tunable metal-molecule-metal switching gap will be discussed. With the potential to achieve stiction-free and low-voltage operation, these devices address two of the main challenges commonly faced by electromechanical switches. Conformational changes in such precisely defined tunable molecular junctions can also modulate light-matter interactions. This effect is leveraged to design a dynamic plasmonic ruler, a much desired metrology tool to study motion and mechanical properties at the nanoscale. The processing and tunability techniques developed in this work extend in applications beyond the examples provided here, introducing versatile platforms to enable engineering at the limits of the nanoscale.

Farnaz Niroui is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she works with Professors Vladimir Bulović and Jeffrey Lang. She received her Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 2013 and completed her undergraduate studies in Nanotechnology Engineering at University of Waterloo in 2011. Her research interest lies at the interface of device physics, nanofabrication, and materials science to study, manipulate and engineer devices and systems with unique functionalities at the nanoscale. Farnaz is a recipient of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Scholarship for graduate studies and the Miller Fellowship, and has been selected to the Rising Stars in EECS program in 2015 and 2016., 510-643-8208