A new way of using diamonds was recently discovered by a team of scientists working at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at the Stanford University. They made use of smallest possible diamonds that can assemble atoms in the thinnest possible electrical wires. The term ‘thinnest’ here refers to only three atoms wide wire. By capturing different types of atoms and arranging those in LEGO-style, the new technique can be used to make small wires that can be used for a large range of applications like the fabrics that can be used to produce electricity or optoelectronic devices that vacate both light and electricity. Hao Yan, a Stanford-based postdoctoral researcher and also the lead author of this paper says, “What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves, he process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It’s almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go.”
There are several other simpler ways for getting self-assembling materials, however, it is one of the first ones that shows how to manufacture a nanowire with the help of a solid and crystalline core that has pretty good electronic features. The wires are like needles with semiconducting core which is a combination of sulfur and copper called chalcogenide that has diamond diodes around it forming an insulated shell. The tiny size of this wire is highly important since the material exists only in 1-2 dimensions but can have highly different extraordinary properties as compared with same material that is created in abundance. The new technique permits the researcher to collect the materials with an atom-by-atom control and precision.
The diamond diodes they utilized in these assembly mediums are very small and interlocking carbon-hydrogen cages. These are naturally found in petroleum fluids that are separated and extracted by geometry and size in SLAC laboratory. Fei Hua Li, who played an important role in this discovery and is also a Stanford graduate, says, “”Much like LEGO blocks, they only fit together in certain ways that are determined by their size and shape. The copper and sulfur atoms of each building block wound up in the middle, forming the conductive core of the wire, and the bulkier diamondoids wound up on the outside, forming the insulating shell.”
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