Silicon Oxide: A Non-innocent Surface for Molecular Electronics and Nanoelectronics Studies

Silicon oxide (SiOx) has been widely used in many electronic systems as a supportive and insulating medium. Here, we demonstrate various electrical phenomena such as resistive switching and related nonlinear conduction, current hysteresis, and negative differential resistance intrinsic to a thin layer of SiOx. These behaviors can largely mimic numerous electrical phenomena observed in molecules and other nanomaterials, suggesting that substantial caution should be paid when studying conduction in electronic systems with SiOx as a component. The actual electrical phenomena can be the result of conduction from SiOx at a post soft-breakdown state and not the presumed molecular or nanomaterial component. These electrical properties and the underlying mechanisms are discussed in detail.