Large anisotropic conductance and band gap fluctuations in nearly round-shape bismuth nanoparticles

Debora Marchak, Denis Glozman, Yuri Vinshtein, Sigal Jarby, Yossi Lereah, Ori Cheshnovsky*, Yoram Selzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unlike their bulk counterpart, nanoparticles often show spontaneous fluctuations in their crystal structure at constant temperature [Iijima, S.; Ichihashi T. Phys. Rev. Lett.1985, 56, 616; Ajayan, P. M.; Marks L. D. Phys. Rev. Lett.1988, 60, 585; Ben-David, T.; Lereah, Y.; Deutscher, G.; Penisson, J. M.; Bourret, A.; Korman, R.; Cheyssac, P. Phys. Rev. Lett.1997, 78, 2585]. This phenomenon takes place whenever the net gain in the surface energy of the particles outweighs the energy cost of internal strain. The configurational space is then densely populated due to shallow free-energy barriers between structural local minima. Here we report that in the case of bismuth (Bi) nanoparticles (BiNPs), given the high anisotropy of the mass tensor of their charge carriers, structural fluctuations result in substantial dynamic changes in their electronic and conductance properties. Transmission electron microscopy is used to probe the stochastic dynamic structural fluctuations of selected BiNPs. The related fluctuations in the electronic band structure and conductance properties are studied by scanning tunneling spectroscopy and are shown to be temperature dependent. Continuous probing of the conductance of individual BiNPs reveals corresponding dynamic fluctuations (as high as 1 eV) in their apparent band gap. At 80 K, upon freezing of structural fluctuations, conductance anisotropy in BiNPs is detected as band gap variations as a function of tip position above individual particles. BiNPs offer a unique system to explore anisotropy in zero-dimension conductors as well as the dynamic nature of nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1091
Number of pages5
JournalNano Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2012


  • Bismuth
  • STM
  • anisotropy
  • conductance
  • nanoparticle


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