DNA-templated nanowires: morphology and electrical conductivity
DNA-templating has been used to create nanowires from metals, compound semiconductors and conductive polymers. The mechanism of growth involves nucleation at binding sites on the DNA followed by growth of spherical particles and then, under favourable conditions, a slow transformation to a smooth nanowire. The final transformation is favoured by restricting the amount of templated material per unit length of template and occurs most readily for materials of low surface tension. Electrical measurements on DNA-templated nanowires can be facilitated using three techniques: (i) standard current–voltage measurements with contact electrodes embedded in a dielectric so that there is a minimal step height at the dielectric/electrode boundary across which nanowires may be aligned by molecular combing, (ii) the use of a dried droplet technique and conductive AFM to determine contact resistance by moving the tip along the length of an individual nanowire and (iii) non-contact assessment of conductivity by scanned conductance microscopy on Si/SiO2 substrates.