Scale nanowire fabrication

By changing the substrate where the nanowires form, a team from Metropolitan University of Tokyo can adjust the way those wires are arranged, from aligned configurations of atomically thin sheets to random bundle networks. This paves the way for industrial introduction into next-generation industrial electronics, including energy collection devices and transparent, efficient, even flexible devices.

Researchers have already used carbon nanotubes and transition metal chalcogenides (TMCs) that can self-assemble into nanowires of atomic proportions. The challenge is to make them long enough to be useful and within range.

The team, led by dr. Hong En Lim, and Associate Professor Yasumitsu Miyata, used the standard CVD procedure to assemble TMC nanowires in different layouts, depending on the surface or substrate used as a template.

For example, nanowires grown on a silica / silica substrate form a random network of bundles, while the wires are assembled in a set direction on a sapphire substrate, following the structure of the underlying sapphire crystal. By simply changing the substrate, the team now has access to centimeter-sized wafers covered with the desired layout, including single-layer, double-layer, and beam grids, all with a variety of applications.

They also found that the structure of the wires themselves was highly crystalline and ordered and that their properties, including excellent conductivity and behavior like 1D, matched those found in the theoretical predictions.

This is a key step in the use of atomically thin wires, in transparent and flexible electronics, ultra-efficient devices and energy collection applications, the researchers say.

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