ACS Nano

Localized Triggering of the Insulator-Metal Transition in VO2 Using a Single Carbon Nanotube

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Vanadium dioxide (VO2) has been widely studied for its rich physics and potential applications, undergoing a prominent insulator-metal transition (IMT) near room temperature. The transition mechanism remains highly debated, and little is known about the IMT at nanoscale dimensions. To shed light on this problem, here we use ∼1 nm-wide carbon nanotube (CNT) heaters to trigger the IMT in VO2. Single metallic CNTs switch the adjacent VO2 at less than half the voltage and power required by control devices without a CNT, with switching power as low as ∼85 μW at 300 nm device lengths. We also obtain potential and temperature maps of devices during operation using Kelvin probe microscopy and scanning thermal microscopy. Comparing these with three-dimensional electrothermal simulations, we find that the local heating of the VO2 by the CNT plays a key role in the IMT. These results demonstrate the ability to trigger IMT in VO2 using nanoscale heaters and highlight the significance of thermal engineering to improve device behavior.