Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed what they call “a simple, one-step method” to grow nanowires of germanium from an aqueous solution. Their process could make it more feasible to use germanium in lithium-ion batteries.
The Missouri S&T researchers describe their method in a paper published Thursday (Aug. 28, 2014) on the website of the journal ACS Nano. The researchers’ one-step approach could lead to a simpler, less expensive way to grow germanium nanowires.
As a semiconductor material, germanium is superior to silicon, says Dr. Jay A. Switzer, the Donald L. Castleman/Foundation for Chemical Research Professor of Discovery at Missouri S&T. Germanium was even used in the first transistors. But it is more expensive to process for widespread use in batteries, solar cells, transistors and other applications, says Switzer, who is the lead researcher on the project.
Switzer and his team have had success growing other materials at the nanometer scale through electrodeposition – a process that Switzer likens to “growing rock candy crystals on a string.” For example, in a 2009 Chemistry of Materials paper, Switzer and his team reported that they had grown zinc oxide “nanospears” – each hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair – on a single-crystal silicon wafer placed in a beaker filled with an alkaline solution saturated with zinc ions.
But growing germanium at the nano level is not so simple. In fact, electrodeposition in an aqueous solution such as that used to grow the zinc oxide nanospears “is thermodynamically not feasible,” Switzer and his team explain in their ACS Nano paper, “Electrodeposited Germanium Nanowires.”
So the Missouri S&T researchers took a different approach. They modified an electrodeposition process found to produce germanium nanowires using liquid metal electrodes. That process, developed by University of Michigan researchers led by Dr. Stephen Maldonado and known as the electrochemical liquid-liquid-solid process (ec-LLS), involves the use of a metallic liquid that performs two functions: It acts as an electrode to cause the electrodeposition as well as a solvent to recrystallize nanoparticles.
Switzer and his team applied the ec-LLS process by electrochemically reducing indium-tin oxide (ITO) to produce indium nanoparticles in a solution containing germanium dioxide, or Ge(IV). “The indium nanoparticle in contact with the ITO acts as the electrode for the reduction of Ge(IV) and also dissolves the reduced Ge into the particle,” the Missouri S&T team reports in the ACS Nano paper. The germanium then “starts to crystallize out of the nanoparticle allowing the growth of the nanowire.”
The Missouri S&T researchers tested the effect of temperature for electrodeposition by growing the germanium nanowires at room temperature and at 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit). They found no significant difference in the quality of the nanowires, although the nanowires grown at room temperature had smaller diameters. Switzer believes that the ability to produce the nanowires at room temperature through this one-step process could lead to a less expensive way to produce the material.
“The high conductivity (of germanium nanowires) makes them ideal for lithium-ion battery applications,” Switzer says.
Switzer’s co-authors on the paper “Electrodeposited Germanium Nanowires” were lead author Naveen K. Mahenderkar, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T; Ying-Chau Liu, a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry at Missouri S&T; and Jakub A. Koza, a postdoctoral associate in Missouri S&T’s Materials Research Center.
Switzer’s research in this area is funded through a $1.22 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Science.
Andrew Careaga | newswise
New method developed for timely detection of impending material failure
28.08.2015 | Universität Siegen
Soaking up carbon dioxide and turning it into valuable products
28.08.2015 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.
These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...
Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.
For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...
It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.
Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine
28.08.2015 | Life Sciences