Raman response and transport properties of tellurium atomic chains encapsulated in nanotubes


Tellurium can form nanowires of helical atomic chains. With their unique one-dimensional van der Waals structure, these nanowires are expected to show physical and electronic properties that are remarkably different from those of bulk tellurium. Here, we show that few-chain and single-chain van der Waals tellurium nanowires can be isolated using carbon nanotube and boron nitride nanotube encapsulation. With this approach, the number of atomic chains can be controlled by the inner diameter of the nanotube. The Raman response of the structures suggests that the interaction between a single-atomic tellurium chain and a carbon nanotube is weak, and that the inter-chain interaction becomes stronger as the number of chains increases. Compared with bare tellurium nanowires on SiO2, nanowires encapsulated in boron nitride nanotubes exhibit a dramatically enhanced current-carrying capacity, with a current density of 1.5 × 108 A cm−2 that exceeds that of most semiconducting nanowires. We also use our tellurium nanowires encapsulated in boron nitride nanotubes to create field-effect transistors with a diameter of only 2 nm.

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Fig. 1: Characterization of Te NWs isolated down to the few-chain limit by CNT encapsulation.
Fig. 2: Characterization of few-chain Te NWs shielded by BNNTs.
Fig. 3: Current-carrying capability of Te NWs encapsulated in BNNTs.
Fig. 4: Electrical measurements of transistors based on few-chain Te NWs.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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P.D.Y. was supported by NSF/AFOSR under EFRI 2DARE grant no. EFMA-1433459, ARO grant no. W911NF-15-1-0574 and ASCENT, one of six centres in JUMP, a Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) programme sponsored by DARPA. P.D.Y. and W.W. were also supported by ARO grant no. W911NF-17-1-0573 and NSF under grant no. CMMI-1762698. J.J. and H.W. acknowledge support from the US Office of Naval Research for the TEM effort. S.G. and L.Y. are supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER grant no. DMR-1455346 and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) grant no. FA9550-17-1-0304. M.J.K. was supported in part by the Global Research and Development Center Program (2018K1A4A3A01064272) and Brain Pool Program (2019H1D3A2A01061938) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT. Computational resources were provided by the Stampede of Teragrid at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) through XSEDE.

Author information

P.D.Y. and J.-K.Q. conceived the idea and proposed the Te-CNT and Te-BNNT research. J.-K.Q. and P.-Y.L. performed growth experiments and analysed experimental data. J.-K.Q., P.-Y.L., M.S., G.Q. and A.C. performed device fabrication and analysed the experimental data. S.-Q.Z. and Y.K.Y. prepared the BNNT samples. Y.W. and W.W. synthesized bare Te nanowires. S.H. and X.X. conducted and supervised the Raman measurements. J.J., Q.W., M.J.K. and H.-Y.W. performed and analysed the STEM measurements. S.G. and L.Y. performed and supervised the DFT calculations. J.-K.Q., P.-Y.L. and P.D.Y. co-wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Peide D. Ye.

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Supplementary Notes 1–6, Figs. 1–19 and Table 1.

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Qin, J., Liao, P., Si, M. et al. Raman response and transport properties of tellurium atomic chains encapsulated in nanotubes. Nat Electron 3, 141–147 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-020-0365-4

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