We demonstrate the observation and measurement of simple nanoscale devices over their complete lifecycle from creation to failure within a transmission electron microscope. Devices were formed by growing Si nanowires, using the vapor–liquid–solid method, to form bridges between Si cantilevers. We characterize the formation of the contact between the nanowire and the cantilever, showing that the nature of the connection depends on the flow of heat and electrical current during and after the moment of contact. We measure the electrical properties and high current failure characteristics of the resulting bridge devices in situ and relate these to the structure. We also describe processes to modify the contact and the nanowire surface after device formation. The technique we describe allows the direct analysis of the processes taking place during device formation and use, correlating specific nanoscale structural and electrical parameters on an individual device basis.
- Si nanowire growth
- UHV transmission electron microscopy
- Nanowire transport