Making nanowires at scale
By changing the substrate where the nanowires form, the team at Tokyo Metropolitan University can tune how these wires are arranged, from aligned configurations of atomically thin sheets to random networks of bundles. This paves the way to industrial deployment in next-gen industrial electronics, including energy harvesting devices and transparent, efficient, even flexible devices.
Researchers have already used carbon nanotubes and transition metal chalcogenides (TMCs) which can self-assemble into atomic-scale nanowires. The challenge is making them long enough to be useful, and at scale.
The team, led by Dr. Hong En Lim and Associate Professor Yasumitsu Miyata, used a standard CVD process to assemble TMC nanowires in different arrangements depending on the surface or substrate used as a template.
For example, nanowires grown on a silicon/silica substrate form a random network of bundles while the wires assemble in a set direction on a sapphire substrate, following the structure of the underlying sapphire crystal. By simply changing the substrate, the team now have access to centimetre-sized wafers covered in the arrangement they desired, including monolayers, bilayers and networks of bundles, all with different applications.
They also found that the structure of the wires themselves were highly crystalline and ordered, and that their properties, including their excellent conductivity and 1D-like behavior, matched those found in theoretical predictions.
This is a key step to using atomically-thin wires, in transparent and flexible electronics, ultra-efficient devices and energy harvesting applications say the researchers.
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