Kyler Natividad

Atomically Resolved Measurement of Electromigration

Electromigration is a phenomenon in which an electric current induces the gradual motion of atoms in a conductor. While electromigration has been observed at the macroscopic scale, its fundamental mechanisms are not well-understood at the atomic scale. The goal of my research project is to investigate the interaction between the electric current and conductor-supported atoms that gives rise to electromigration.
Electromigration has important effects on the reliability of electronic components, and has many proposed applications, including uses in nanomachine actuation, chemical transport, and as a method for the nanoscale mixing of new alloys. A thorough understanding of the physics behind electromigration is required to further develop these applications.
To study how electric current leads to the motion of atoms, I will use local probe microscopy for atomically-resolved imaging of the electronic structure and charge density around the atoms. These measurements will show how the physical behavior changes in response to current, charge carrier density, and the type of scattering. Determining the effects of these parameters is essential to better understanding the physical mechanisms underpinning electromigration.

Message to Sponsor

McKinley Fund, thank you for giving me the opportunity to get hands on experience with real research. I learned a lot about the scientific process, solid-state physics, and what the daily life is like for an experimental physicist. In the future, I am planning to continue to go to graduate school to become a full time researcher. Although I do not think I want to remain in solid-state physics, this was still a very valuable experience in helping me discover where my interests lie.
  • Major: Physics
  • Sponsor: McKinley Fund
  • Mentor: Michael Crommie