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 Engineers develop smart material that changes stiffness when twisted or bent
15.02.2018 | Iowa State University

nachricht Breaking local symmetry: Why water freezes but silica forms a glass
14.02.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>