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Global research team reveals how nanowhiskers grow and can boost electronics production

November 03, 2017, 18:40 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The results of the study will be helpful in controlling properties of crystals and applying them to the design of state-of-the-art electronic devices

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© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. An international group of scientists from Russia, Finland, Denmark, and Italy studied the growth and decay of filamentary nanocrystals (nanowires or nanowhiskers) and illustrated how the incorporation of atoms in crystals during growth and their elimination during decomposition occur, the Skoltech press office said.

The study's results will be helpful in controlling properties of crystals and applying them to the design of state-of-the-art electronic devices. The results of the research have been published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

"This research might become the basis for creating a new generation of devices, for example, gas sensors, diodes, field transistors, and IR-photodetectors based on nanowires which will use previously discovered materials as a key component," said Evgeniya Gilstein, a research assistant at the Skoltech Center for Photonics and Quantum Materials.

Application range

The nanowire is a new type of nanomaterial, considered to hold prospects for future application in high-performance electronics. This material can also be used in chemical and biological sensors, solar cells, and lasers. Moreover, nanowhiskers are perfect objects to study crystal growth since they are nothing more than elongated monocrystals.

Understanding how crystals grow is essential for manufacturing microprocessors, solar cells, photo elements, and many other devices. Despite the fact that the main procedures for determining the growth of crystals are already known, the behavior of individual atoms on the surface of crystals has not been understood till now. The knowledge of this process will open new doors to modify nanowires, say via ‘semiconductor doping’, combinations of different materials in one nanowire, the creation of new materials, and controlling their growth.

The researchers tracked the crystals growth and decomposition on samples of nanowires comprised of copper oxide, the most widely-studied nanowire material.

"Using electron microscopy during the course of the experiments, we managed to observe three important states of a crystal - its growth, transition state, and finally its decomposition. The transition mode which has been identified for the first time in this particular set of experiments demonstrates how the transition from growth to the decomposition stage appears, and provides new possibilities to work with nanowires. The nascent understanding of crystal growth could help in controlling the growth of any crystals," the study’s coauthor and professor at Skoltech Albert Nasibullin commented.

According to the scientists, the study’s results will facilitate low-cost, mass production of electronic devices because of the minute size of nanowires, which will be the main construction material.

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