Industrial and Management Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 99 (2007), 017601; DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.017601. Copyright (c) 2007 American Physical Society. Used by permission.


Nanoscale confinement of dielectric molecules is expected to influence their breakdown mechanism in applications such as nanoprobe based machining, molecular electronics, and other related technologies. This Letter presents the first experimental study of the breakdown of nonpolar, nonthiolated liquid dielectrics in the nanometer regime and develops a field emission assisted avalanche based approach to model such behavior. The studies show that dielectric breakdown in the sub-20 nm regime is independent of the cathode materials and is dominated by the electron emission and atomic cluster migration due to the ‘‘sub-20 nm scale confinement of the liquid dielectric.’’