Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanowire film brings cheaper, faster electronics a step closer

07.11.2003


Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated for the first time that they can easily apply a film of tiny, high-performance silicon nanowires to glass and plastic, a development that could pave the way for the next generation of cheaper, lighter and more powerful consumer electronics. The development could lead to such futuristic products as disposable computers and optical displays that can be worn in your clothes or contact lenses, they say.



Their research appears in the November issue of Nano Letters, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

While amorphous silicon and polycrystalline silicon are considered the current state of the art material for making electronic components such as computer chips and LCDs, silicon nanowires, a recent development, are considered even better at carrying an electrical charge, the researchers say. Although a single nanowire is one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, it can carry information up to 100 times faster than similar components used in current consumer electronic products, they add.


Scientists have already demonstrated that these tiny wires have the ability to serve as components of highly efficient computer chips and can emit light for brilliant multicolor optical displays. But they have had difficulty until now in applying these nanowires to everyday consumer products, says Charles M. Lieber, Ph.D., head of the research project and a professor of chemistry at Harvard.

"As with conventional high-quality semi-conducting materials, the growth of high-quality nanowires requires relatively high temperature," explains Lieber. "This temperature requirement has - up until now - limited the quality of electronics on plastics, which melt at such growth temperatures."

"By using a ’bottom-up’ approach pioneered by our group, which involves assembly of pre-formed nanoscale building blocks into functional devices, we can apply a film of nanowires to glass or plastics long after growth, and do so at room temperature," says Lieber.

Using a liquid solution of the silicon nanowires, the researchers have demonstrated that they can deposit the silicon onto glass or plastic surfaces — similar to applying the ink of a laser printer to a piece of paper — to make functional nanowire devices.

They also showed that nanowires applied to plastic can be bent or deformed into various shapes without hurting performance, a plus for making consumer electronics more durable.

According to Lieber, the first devices made with this new nanowire technology will probably improve on existing devices such as smart cards and LCD displays, which utilize conventional amorphous silicon and organic semiconductors that are comparatively slow and are already approaching their technological limitations.

Within the next decade, consumers could see more exotic applications of this nanotechnology, Lieber says. "One could imagine, for instance, contact lenses with displays and miniature computers on them, so that you can experience a virtual tour of a new city as you walk around wearing them on your eyes, or alternatively harness this power to create a vision system that enables someone who has impaired vision or is blind to ’see’."

The military should also find practical use for this technology, says Lieber. One problem soldiers encounter is the tremendous weight — up to 100 pounds — that they carry in personal equipment, including electronic devices. "The light weight and durability of our plastic nanowire electronics could allow for advanced displays on robust, shock-resistant plastic that can withstand significant punishment while minimizing the weight a soldier carries," he says.

Many challenges still lie ahead, such as configuring the wires for optimal performance and applying the wires over more diverse surfaces and larger areas, the researcher says.

Lieber recently helped start a company, NanoSys, Inc., that is now developing nanowire technology and other nanotechnology products.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

nachricht To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>