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Dec 24, 2020

Atomic-scale nanowires can now be produced at scale

Posted by in categories: chemistry, nanotechnology, particle physics, robotics/AI, space travel

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have discovered a way to make self-assembled nanowires of transition metal chalcogenides at scale using chemical vapor deposition. By changing the substrate where the wires form, they can tune how these wires are arranged, from aligned configurations of atomically thin sheets to random networks of bundles. This paves the way to industrial deployment in next-gen industrial electronics, including energy harvesting, and transparent, efficient, even flexible devices.

Electronics is all about making things smaller—smaller features on a chip, for example, means more computing power in the same amount of space and better efficiency, essential to feeding the increasingly heavy demands of a modern IT infrastructure powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence. And as devices get smaller, the same demands are made of the intricate wiring that ties everything together. The ultimate goal would be a wire that is only an atom or two in thickness. Such would begin to leverage completely different physics as the electrons that travel through them behave more and more as if they live in a one-dimensional world, not a 3D one.

In fact, scientists already have materials like carbon nanotubes and transition metal chalcogenides (TMCs), mixtures of transition metals and group 16 elements which can self-assemble into atomic-scale nanowires. The trouble is making them long enough, and at scale. A way to mass produce nanowires would be a game changer.

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