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High Throughput Ab initio Modeling of Charge Transport for Bio-Molecular-Electronics


Self-assembled nanostructures, composed of inorganic and organic materials, have multiple applications in the fields of engineering and nanotechnology. Experimental research using nanoscaled materials, such as semiconductor/metallic nanocrystals, nanowires (NW), and carbon nanotube (CNT)-molecular systems have potential applications in next generation nano electronic devices. Many of these molecular systems exhibit electronic device functionality. However, experimental analytical techniques to determine how the chemistry and geometry affects electron transport through these devices does not yet exist.

Using theory and modeling, one can approximate the chemistry and geometry at

the atomic level and also determine how the chemistry and geometry governs electron current. Nanoelectronic devices however, contain several thousand atoms which makes quantum modeling difficult. Popular atomistic modeling approaches are capable of handling small molecular systems, which are of scientific interest, but have little engineering value. The lack of large scale modeling tools has left the scientific and engineering community with a limited ability to understand, explore, and design complex systems of engineering interest.

To address these issues, I have developed a high performance general quantum charge transport model based on the non-equilibrium Green function (NEGF) formalism using density functional theory (DFT) as implemented in the FIREBALL software. FIREBALL is a quantum molecular dynamics code which has demonstrated the ability to model large molecular systems. This dissertation project of integrating NEGF into FIREBALL provides researchers with a modeling tool capable of simulating charge current in large inorganic / organic systems.

To provide theoretical support for experimental efforts, this project focused on CNT-molecular systems, which includes the discovery of a CNT-molecular resonant tunneling diode (RTD) for electronic circuit applications. This research also answers basic scientific questions regarding how the geometry and chemistry of CNT-molecular systems affects electron transport.

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