Properties of nanoscale dielectrics from first principles computations

Date of Completion

January 2008


Engineering, Materials Science




In recent years, dielectric materials of nanoscale dimensions have aroused considerable interest. We mention two examples. First, in the semiconductor industry, in order to keep pace with Moore's law scaling, the thickness of gate oxide dielectric material is reaching nanoscale dimensions. Second, the high energy density capacitor industry is currently considering dielectric composites with a polymer host matrix filled with inorganic dielectric nanoparticles or polarizable organic molecules. The driving force for the former application is high dielectric constants (or high-k), and those for the latter are high-k and/or high dielectric breakdown strengths. Thus, it is important to characterize the electronic and dielectric properties of materials in the nano-regime, where surface and interface effects naturally play a dominant role. The primary goal of this work is to determine the extent to which such surface/interface effects modify the dielectric constants, band edges, and dielectric breakdown strengths of systems with at least one of their dimensions in the nano-regime. Towards that end, we have developed new computational methodologies at the first principles (density functional) level of theory. These methods have then been applied to several relevant and critical nanoscale systems, including Si:SiO2 and Si:HfO2 heterojunctions, and polymeric composites containing Cu-phthalocyanine and SiO2 nanoparticles. ^