Nanowires span silicon contacts

March 24/31, 2004

One challenge for researchers aiming to make electronics at the size-scale of molecules is finding ways to position and attach nanowires to the tiny components.

Researchers from Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and have grown nanowires between electrodes that were made using common patterning techniques. Because the nanowires grow and connect automatically, the method promises to provide a relatively inexpensive way to mass-produce nanoelectronics.

The method could be used to make hand-held devices that can sense very small amounts of chemicals. The nanowire arrays create a large surface area for contacting target substances like toxic chemicals or pathogens. The method could also eventually be used to make interconnecting leads between nanowires and also devices like transistors within nanowires, according to the researchers.

The researchers used a chemical vapor and a metal catalyst to coax dense arrays arrays of nanowires to form between a pair of vertical silicon electrodes. The electrodes were the side walls of a trench etched in a silicon wafer. The method is compatible with existing chip-making processes, according to the researchers.

Practical applications are about five years away, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the January 23, 2004 issue of Nanotechnology.

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