Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Just-For-Fun Experiment Creates Self-Assembly Method

14.12.2001


An experiment that University of Chicago physicists conducted just for fun has unexpectedly led them to a new technique for producing nanoscale structures.
The Chicago physicists have built simple electronic devices using the new technique, which precisely controls the growth of metal wires along tiny scaffolds that automatically assemble themselves following nature’s own tendencies.

"This is perhaps the first time that it has been possible to assemble large numbers of parallel, continuous wires that are truly nanometer scale in cross-section," said Heinrich Jaeger, Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. Jaeger and Ward Lopes of Arryx Inc. in Chicago describe the technique in today’s issue of the journal Nature.


Self-assembly is a hot research field today because of the promise it holds for producing new technology at the nanoscale, the scale of atoms and molecules. Conventional methods for building smaller, faster computer components involves chiseling ever-finer structures out of a larger piece of material. Self-assembly, in contrast, builds up larger structures from smaller building blocks.

The nanowires that Lopes fabricated during the course of his Ph.D. research at the University measure 30 nanometers by 10 nanometers in diameter. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or the width of a double strand of DNA. Lopes also fabricated "nanochains," tiny strings of metal beads of similar size that could serve as switches.

The most perfect wirelike structures are formed with silver, Jaeger said. "Silver is unique in that it forms the wires. Essentially all other metals -- gold, copper, tin, lead, bismuth -- form nanochains under normal conditions.

"We can also form nanochains with silver, but the exciting advance of Ward’s research is that he was able to combine experimental results with computer simulations to get a feeling of what it is about a particular metal that makes it behave in a wirelike fashion or the chainlike fashion."

This productive line of research started on a lark.

"In Heinrich’s lab we had a tradition on Friday afternoons of doing experiments that you couldn’t justify spending time on, that you would only do because you wanted to have fun and try things out," Lopes said.

In his experiment, Lopes attempted to see if silver would chemically react to certain copolymers -- synthetic compounds -- the way gold did, as would be expected. But Lopes noticed that the silver exhibited strange behavior. All other metals formed balls on the copolymers and, if he added too much metal the balls would bond to each other and ignore the template. When he added enough silver he expected the silver to ignore the copolymer template, but the silver spheres had become long and thin.

"I just followed my nose and said, how long can I get these things to be?"

Potential applications for the technique include the production of high-density computer disks, and to make lenses for X-ray lithography, a process for transferring ultrasmall patterns to silicon computer chips.

The Chicago physicists used commonly available copolymers and simple methods with an eye toward easing the transfer of their results to potential applications.

"The plastics in the copolymer we used are standard, everyday plastics," Lopes said. "One was polystyrene, which is used to make Styrofoam, and the other, polymethylmethacrylate, is familiar from Plexiglas."

Steve Koppes | International Science News
Further information:
http://unisci.com/stories/20014/1213015.htm

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells
11.12.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires
07.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

Large-scale battery storage system in field trial

11.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>