Tiny nanocables, 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, could become key parts of toxin detectors, miniaturized solar cells and powerful computer chips.
The technique for making the nanocables was invented by UC Davis chemical engineers led by Pieter Stroeve, professor of chemical engineering and materials science. They manufacture the cables in the nano-sized pores of a template membrane. The insides of the pores are coated with gold. Layers of other semiconductors, such as tellurium, cadmium sulfide or zinc sulfide, are electrochemically deposited in the gold tube until a solid cable forms, then the membrane is dissolved, leaving finished cables behind.
Stroeve envisions many uses for these nanocables. For example, the cables ability to conduct electricity changes when they are exposed to different chemicals or toxins. Earlier nano-devices could only detect whether a toxin was present, said Ruxandra Vidu, a postdoctoral scholar working with Stroeve. But nanocables will go further, measuring the quantity of toxins.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
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