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Precise positioning of nanowires achieved using sound waves

Posted: 24 Jul 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:nanowire? lithography? sensor? optoelectronics?

According to an interdisciplinary team of Pennsylvania State University researchers, the continually decreasing size of components has presented a challenge to create patterns in an economical and reproducible way. However, using sound waves, they found a way to place nanowires in repeatable patterns for potential use in a variety of sensors, optoelectronics and nanoscale circuits.

"There are ways to create these devices with lithography, but it is very hard to create patterns below 50nm using lithography," said Tony Jun Huang, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, Penn State.

Simulation of the electric field distribution in a two-dimensional standing surface wave field

Figure 1: Simulation of the electric field distribution in a two-dimensional standing surface wave field.

"It is rather simple now to make metal nanomaterials using synthetic chemistry. Our process allows pattern transfer of arrays of these nanomaterials onto substrates that might not be compatible with conventional lithography. For example, we could make networks of wires and then pattern them to arrays of living cells."

The researchers looked at the placement of metallic nanowires in solution on a piezoelectric substrate. Piezoelectric materials move when an electric voltage is applied to them and create an electric voltage when compressed.

In this case, the researchers applied an alternating current to the substrate so that the material's movement creates a standing surface acoustic wave in the solution. A standing wave has node locations that do not move, so the nanowires arrive at these nodes and remain there.

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