US scientists weld nanowires with light

08 February 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A new way of welding together nanowires using white light has been developed by a team of scientists in the US.

The researchers from Stamford University used the polyol process to create silver nanowires coated in polyvinylpyrrolidine (PVP) and have written about their discovery in the latest issue of the journal Nature Materials.

According to the team - led by Erik Garnett - when white light was shone onto nanowires sprayed or dropped onto a surface it created a fine nanowire mesh on it.

The technique that involves light and metal interacting is known as plasmonics and could be used to create stronger and more effective meshes.

Mark Brongersma, Stanford University Associate Professor of Materials Science Engineering, explained: "When two nanowires lay crisscrossed, we know that light will generate plasmon waves at the place where the two nanowires meet - creating a hot spot.

"The beauty is that the hot spots exist only when the nanowires touch, not after they have fused. The welding stops itself. It's self-limiting."

Potential future applications for the nanowire meshes could include electrodes for electronics such as touch screen displays and LEDs, or cheap window coatings that generate solar energy, according to the specialists.

A further nanoscience breakthrough has been reported by experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, with the team looking at the ways in which nanoparticles move and diffuse in fluid or on surfaces in a range of conditions.

The information gathered about extreme and non-ideal circumstances and their effects on nanorods could be used in the future to create a device that is capable of controlling the flow of nanoparticles.

"Blue-sky applications of such devices include the creation of new light patterns, information flow and other microscopic triggers," stated Professor Roberto Hernandez, who led the research.

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