Method for electrical characterization of nanowires

Ron Gurwitz, Ilan Shalish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The ability to control conductivity in semiconductor nanostructures is often challenged by surface states trapping the majority of the charge carriers. Addressing this challenge requires a reliable method for assessing electrical properties such as carrier concentration and mobility. Unfortunately, here we are facing another challenge, as the Hall effect is geometrically inapplicable to nanowires while the field effect model is also challenged by the geometry of the common nanowire field effect transistor, and can only yield channel mobility which is very different from Hall mobility. In this paper, we propose a method that combines resistivity and photovoltage measurements with a chemical perturbation to the surface to measure carrier concentration and mobility, as a function of wire diameter, and also to measure the surface state density and the surface band bending before and after the chemical treatment. We apply this method to CVD grown GaN nanowires, before and after a mild HCl etch. Using transmission electron microscope and x-ray photoelectron spectrometry we find that HCl removes the native gallium oxide. The etch is found to reduce the surface state density from 1 × 1012 to 5.3 × 10 11cm2, which is calculated from a reduction of the critical radius for full depletion from 7.6 to 4nm, and a reduction of the surface band bending from 0.53 to 0.29eV, observed using surface photovoltage. On the average, the values of carrier concentration we obtain are about ten times smaller, and the mobility about ten times greater, than values obtained using field effect transistors. Interestingly, the weak size dependence of the mobility disappears after etching, suggesting a causal linkage between the as-grown size dependence of the mobility and the density of surface states. The proposed method provides an experimental handle to the study of surface states and their effects on the electrical properties of nanowires.

Original languageEnglish
Article number435705
Issue number43
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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