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Nanotechnology Spotlight

Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
Our Nanowerk-exclusive feature articles

Showing Spotlights 9 - 16 of 47 in category Nanowires (newest first):

 

Fabricating nanodevices with automated nanomanipulation (w/video)

nanowiresFabrication conditions for nanoscale field-effect transistors (nano-FETs) have to meet very high requirements in order for these transistors to be used reliably as ultrasensitive and label-free molecular sensors in medical and environmental applications. Current fabrication routes for silicon-nanowire sensor construction involve high-cost, high-complexity - and often low-yield - top-down techniques such as e-beam lithography and focused ion beam. An alternative, and lower-cost, fabrication method is the use of pre-synthesized nanotubes or nanowires that are integrated into microstructures to form nano-FET sensors. Now, researchers have developed an automated vision-based nanomanipulation technique that is capable of precisely controlling the number of nanowires incorporated into each device.

Posted: Jan 24th, 2012

Biofunctionalized silk nanofibers to repair the optic nerve

silk_nanofibersA main difference between central and peripheral nervous system is the lack of regeneration after a neurotrauma, leading to severe and irreversible handicaps. While biomaterials have been developed to aid the regeneration of peripheral nerves, the repair of central nerves such as the optic nerval or nerve cells in the spinal cord remain a major challenge for scientists. The ability to regenerate central nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way and nanotechnologies offer promising routes for repair techniques. Scientists have now attempted to rescue retinal ganglion cell death and enhance their regeneration using an electrospun material made of biofunctional nanofibers.

Posted: Oct 12th, 2011

New nanomaterials for radioactive waste clean-up in water

nanofibersBack in 2008 we reported on nanotechnology solution for radioactive waste cleanup, specifically the use of titanate nanofibers as absorbents for the removal of radioactive ions from water. Now, the same group that developed these nanomaterials reports in a new study that the unique structural properties of titanate nanotubes and nanofibers make them superior materials for removal of radioactive cesium and iodine ions in water. Based on their earlier work, the researchers have now demonstrated a potentially cost-effective method to remediate cesium and iodine ions from contaminated water by using the unique chemistry of titanate nanotubes and nanofibers to chemisorb these ions.

Posted: Oct 4th, 2011

A new top-down nanofabrication scheme produces indefinitely long nanostructures

long_nanowireIt is not often that the prefix multipliers kilo and nano come together, and when they do, it usually is in the opening chapters of physical sciences textbooks where the point is made that the universe around us spans enormous space and time scales while operating in unimaginably small ones. We are truly awestruck and inspired by the tension. Kilometer-long nanowires do have a similar eponymous echo. Researchers have now reported the first successful fabrication of arrays of millions of ordered indefinitely long nanowires and nanotubes in a flexible polymer fiber. The results are kilometer-long nanowires - a novel approach to nanowire fabrication that might bring with it fresh solutions.

Posted: Jun 23rd, 2011

Towards electronic textiles - putting conductive coatings on fibers

conductive_fibersThe future of your shirts, socks and gloves will be electronic. In years to come, wearable electronics will look nothing like even your smallest iPod or mobile phone today. Not only will such devices be embedded on textile substrates, but an electronics device or system could become the fabric itself. Here is some recent work that demonstrates the kind of issues scientists are working on today and that will help improve the performance of electronic textile structures. Using atomic layer deposition (ALD), researchers have grown coatings of inorganic materials on the surface of textiles like woven cotton and nonwoven polypropylene. By fabricating an all-fiber capacitor, they show that their coated materials are sufficiently conductive to perform in simple device architectures.

Posted: Jun 9th, 2011

Breakthrough makes large bandgap materials useful for photovoltaics

nanowiresIn a standard dye sensitized solar cell, an organic molecule adsorbed on the surface of a porous electrode absorbs light and then initiates the charge separation process eventually leading to generation of photocurrent. While the dye appears to have "sensitized" the large bandgap material, it never actually does, because only the dye molecules absorb the light and generate the carriers, the large bandgap material primarily serves the function of a conducting channel to take the electrons out. While wide bandgap materials alone can not absorb the sun light efficiently, it has been predicted that if two large bandgap materials with type-II band alignment form coaxial nanowires, the effective indirect bandgap could be substantially smaller than either of the individual materials. After a few years effort, one research team has now demonstrated a real functional device that exhibits the key feature of the idea: the use of two large bandgap materials to make a solar cell behaving like a small bandgap material.

Posted: Mar 18th, 2011

Perspectives for live cellular biosensing with nanowire arrays

nanowires_and_cellsIn order to get a true picture of the processes and events that take place inside unmodified, living cells, probing techniques need to be non-destructive, noninvasive and in real-time. Due to their small dimensions, high-aspect ratio nanomaterials such as nanofibers, nanowires and carbon nanotubes are ideal for cellular applications since they can cross the cell membrane without causing significant damage. In particular, semiconductor nanowires attract a lot of interest because of their uniformity, reproducibility and possibility of fine-tuning their intrinsic properties - physical dimensions, crystal structure, electrical and optical properties, etc. Researchers have now shown, for the first time, the spontaneous and close interface of arrays of vertically aligned indium arsenide nanowires with two relevant cell lines, human embryonic kidney cells and rat embryonic dorsal root ganglion neurons.

Posted: Mar 14th, 2011

Chemical growth methods are reason for silicon nanowires' poor photovoltaic performance

nanowiresNanowires - particularly those of silicon - promise great potentials for high-efficiency, low-cost solar energy conversion. This promise has not yet been met by experimental evidence, raising fundamental questions whether silicon nanowires are intrinsically disadvantaged and whether the photovoltaic research community should continue working on this material. Despite intense efforts, the performance of silicon nanowire-based solar cells remains significantly lower than what has been achieved for bulk silicon or micrometer-scale wires. The gap between the predicted performance and the inability to deliver raises an important question with regard to the origin of this problem. New research shows that the poor performance is not a result of the nanowire morphology, but is intrinsic to the growth chemistry.

Posted: Mar 9th, 2011