Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new class of nanometer-scale structures that spontaneously form helical shapes from long ribbon-like single crystals of zinc oxide (ZnO). Dubbed "nanosprings," the new structures have piezoelectric and electrostatic polarization properties that could make them useful in small-scale sensing and micro-system applications.
Images show helical structures made from zinc oxide (ZnO). The typical width of the structures is about 30 nanometers.
Just 10 to 60 nanometers wide and 5-20 nanometers thick – but up to several millimeters long – the new structures are similar to but smaller than the "nanobelts" first reported by Georgia Tech scientists two years ago in the journal Science. The new helical structures and their potential applications were described in the journal Nano Letters. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA.
"These structures are very different from our original nanobelts and are a major step toward a new system of nanostructures," said Zhong L. Wang, director of Georgia Techs Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and a professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering. "Piezoelectric and polar-surface dominated smart materials based on zinc oxide are important because they could be the transducers and actuators for future generations of nanoscale devices."
John Toon | Georgia Institute of Technology
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