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

Silicon oxide (SiO<sub><i>x</i></sub>) 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 SiO<sub><i>x</i></sub>. 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 SiO<sub><i>x</i></sub> as a component. The actual electrical phenomena can be the result of conduction from SiO<sub><i>x</i></sub> 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.