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Hybrid nano-wires provide link to silicon

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  • RemyC
    From: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996101 Hybrid nano-wires provide link to silicon 30 June 04 NewScientist.com news service Nanoscale
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2004

      Hybrid nano-wires provide link to silicon

      30 June 04

      NewScientist.com news service

      Nanoscale electronic components that could be plugged into conventional
      computer circuits have been developed for the first time by US chemists.

      Nanoscopic electronic wires have already been made in the laboratory, often
      using exotic materials such as carbon nanotubes. However, to be of practical
      use, such components will need to be connected to larger electronic
      components. And existing electronics are usually made with silicon, which
      cannot easily be connected to nanotubes.

      But now, Charles Lieber and colleagues at Harvard University in Cambridge,
      Massachusetts, have developed highly conductive nanowires by blending
      silicon and nickel together. These could provide a way to connect nanoscale
      components with existing electronic components, which are hundreds or
      thousands of times larger.

      A huge amount of research is being done on nanoscale electronics, because
      such miniaturization would enable computer makers to pack in far more
      processing power.

      High conductivity

      Lieber's group coated tiny silicon wires measuring 20 nanometres in diameter
      with the metal nickel before heating them to 550°C to blend the two elements
      together. After etching away excess metal, they then tested the electronic
      properties of the resulting nickel silicide wires.

      They were found to have an extremely high conductivity, making them very
      promising for use as electronic components. Furthermore, by coating only
      part of the wire, the process could be used to make wires that were part
      silicon and part nickel-silicon, providing a way to interface with existing
      silicon electronics.


      Lieber Group, Harvard University

      Quantum Transport Group, Delft University of Technology


      "I find this result quite amazing," says Silvano De Franceschi of Delft
      University of Technology in the Netherlands. "It implies that such
      heterostructures could be shrunk down to the nanometre scale. This is
      relevant for the high-scale integration of electronic circuits."

      The Harvard researchers have also shown that the method can be used to
      create simple nanoscale electronic components, e.g. field-effect
      transistors. "By extending our approach to crossed nanowires it should
      become possible to assemble large and dense arrays ... of transistors and
      other devices that could enable hybrid integrated circuits," the team writes
      in Nature.

      But De Fanseschi notes that significant obstacles still need to be overcome
      before chemically created nanowires can be used as an alternative, or a
      complement, to existing technology. "A major challenge is to devise
      effective techniques to control their position to a sufficient degree of
      accuracy," he says.

      Journal reference: Nature (vol 430, p 61)

      Will Knight
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