"Direct Imaging of Nanoscale Conductance Evolution in Ion-Gel-Gated Oxide Transistors"

Yuan Ren: Hongtao Yuan, Xiaoyu Wu, Zhuoyu Chen, Yoshihiro Iwasa, Yi Cui, Harold Y. Hwang and Keji Lai ; NANO Letters, 06/10/15.

Additional Authors: Hongtao Yuan, Xiaoyu Wu, Zhuoyu Chen, Yoshihiro Iwasa, Yi Cui, Harold Y. Hwang and Keji Lai

Abstract:

Electrostatic modification of functional materials by electrolytic gating has demonstrated a remarkably wide range of density modulation, a condition crucial for developing novel electronic phases in systems ranging from complex oxides to layered chalcogenides. Yet little is known microscopically when carriers are modulated in electrolyte-gated electric double-layer transistors (EDLTs) due to the technical challenge of imaging the buried electrolyte–semiconductor interface. Here, we demonstrate the real-space mapping of the channel conductance in ZnO EDLTs using a cryogenic microwave impedance microscope. A spin-coated ionic gel layer with typical thicknesses below 50 nm allows us to perform high resolution (on the order of 100 nm) subsurface imaging, while maintaining the capability of inducing the metal–insulator transition under a gate bias. The microwave images vividly show the spatial evolution of channel conductance and its local fluctuations through the transition as well as the uneven conductance distribution established by a large source-drain bias. The unique combination of ultrathin ion-gel gating and microwave imaging offers a new opportunity to study the local transport and mesoscopic electronic properties in EDLTs.