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Gate-Induced Modification of Water Adsorption on Dielectrics Probed by EFM and Carbon Nanotube FETs



Humidity plays an important role in molecular electronics. It facilitates charge movement on top of dielectric layers and modifies the device transfer characteristics. Using two different methods to probe temporal charge redistribution on the surface of dielectrics, we were able to extract the surface humidity for the first time. The first method is based on the relaxation time constants of the current through carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNTFETs), and the second is based on electric force microscopy (EFM) measurements. Moreover, we found that applying external gate biases modifies the surface humidity. A theoretical model based on dielectrophoretic attraction between the water molecules and the substrate is introduced to explain this observation, and the results support our hypothesis. Furthermore, it is found that upon the adsorption of two to three layers of water the surface conductivity saturates.