Manufacture of nanowires on a scale

By changing the substrate on which the nanowires form, the Tokyo Metropolitan University team can tune the arrangement of these wires, from aligned configurations of atomically thin layers to random bundle networks. This paves the way for industrial use in next generation industrial electronics, including power harvesting devices and transparent, efficient and even flexible devices.

Researchers have already used carbon nanotubes and transition metal chalcogenides (TMCs), which can self-assemble into atomic nanowires. The challenge is to make them long enough to be useful and to scale.

The team headed by Dr. Hong En Lim and Associate Professor Yasumitsu Miyata used a standard CVD process to assemble TMC nanowires in different arrangements depending on the surface or substrate used as a template.

For example, nanowires grown on a silicon / silicon dioxide substrate form a random network of bundles, while the wires assemble in a fixed direction on a sapphire substrate and follow the structure of the sapphire crystal below. By simply changing the substrate, the team now has access to centimeter-sized wafers covered in the desired arrangement, including monolayers, bilayers, and bundle networks with different applications.

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

This is an important step towards using atomically thin wires in transparent and flexible electronics, high-efficiency devices, and power generation applications, the researchers say.

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