Digital memory device based on tobacco mosaic virus conjugated with nanoparticles


Nanostructured viruses are attractive for use as templates for ordering quantum dots to make self-assembled building blocks for next-generation electronic devices. So far, only a few types of electronic devices have been fabricated from biomolecules due to the lack of charge transport through biomolecular junctions. Here, we show a novel electronic memory effect by incorporating platinum nanoparticles into tobacco mosaic virus. The memory effect is based on conductance switching, which leads to the occurrence of bistable states with an on/off ratio larger than three orders of magnitude. The mechanism of this process is attributed to charge trapping in the nanoparticles for data storage and a tunnelling process in the high conductance state. Such hybrid bio–inorganic nanostructures show promise for applications in future nanoelectronics.

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Figure 1: Transmission electron microscope (TEM) image of TMV–Pt conjugate and size distribution of the Pt nanoparticles.
Figure 2: XPS spectra of hybrid bio-inorganic TMV–Pt composites.
Figure 3: Typical room temperature IV characteristics of the TMV–Pt device.
Figure 4: The conduction mechanism and conductive atomic force microscope measurements.
Figure 5: Switching cycles of the TMV–Pt device.
Figure 6: Temperature-dependent retention time.


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This research work was supported by the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation (MARCO) Focus Center on Functional Engineered Nano Architectonics (FENA) at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Riverside, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. We acknowledge assistance from Paichun Chang, Zhiyong Fan and Jia Grace Lu on the CAFM measurements.

Author information

R.J.T. and C.T. designed the experiments. R.J.T. performed memory device fabrication, XPS characterization, CAFM, and electrical measurements. C.T. performed material synthesis, TEM, SEM images and CAFM study. L.P.M. provided feedback and the model for the device mechanism. J.O. provided suggestions on the experiments. C.S.O. and Y.Y. conceptualized and directed the research project. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Cengiz S. Ozkan or Yang Yang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Tseng, R., Tsai, C., Ma, L. et al. Digital memory device based on tobacco mosaic virus conjugated with nanoparticles. Nature Nanotech 1, 72–77 (2006).

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