By considering numerous sorts of atoms and placing them together LEGO-style, the novel method could possibly be employed to construct small wires for an extensive range of applications, comprising fabrics that release electricity, optoelectronic devices that use both light and electricity, and superconducting substances that conduct electricity without any loss.
“What we have revealed is that we can prepare small, conductive wires of the tiniest possible size that essentially organize themselves,” says Hao Yan, a Stanford postdoctoral scientist. “The procedure is simple. You mix all the ingredients together and you can obtain results in half an hour. It is almost as if the diamondoids know where they intend to go.”
For this research, the team took the advantage of the fact that diamondoids robustly attracted to each other, through what are considered as van der Waals forces. They begin with the smallest possible diamondoids – singular cages that comprise just 10 carbon atoms and linked a sulphur atom to each other. Floating in a solution, each sulphur atoms linked with a singular copper ion. It created the basic nanowire building block.
The building blocks then moved towards each other, drawn by van der Waals attraction between the diamondoids, and linked to the growing tip of the nanowire. “Somewhat similar to the LEGO blocks, they only fir together in specific ways that are determined by their shape and size,” says Stanford’s graduate student FeiHua Li. “The sulphur and copper atoms of each building block wound up in the centre, creating the conductive core of the wire, and the heftiest diamondoids wound up on the outside, creating the insulating shell.”
The group has already used diamondoids to create one-dimensional nanowires based on zinc, silver, iron, and cadmium, including some that expand long enough to witness without a microscope, and they have researchers with carrying out the reactions in distinct solvents with other sorts of stubborn molecules, like carbonates.
The wires made with cadmium are similar to substances used in optoelectronics, like light-emitting diodes, and the zinc-based are similar to those used in solar applications and piezoelectric energy generations that transform motion into electricity.
“You can think weaving those into fabrics to release energy,” says Melosh. “This method offers us a versatile toolkit where we can tinker with a range of ingredients and experimental studies to generate novel substances with finely tuned electrical properties and interesting physics.”
The study headed by SIMES Director Thomas Devereaux structured and expected the electronic properties of the nanowires that were analysed with X-rays at SLAC’s Stanford Synchroton Radiation Lightsource, a DOE Office of Science User Facility to identify their structure and other characteristics. The team also included members from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Stanford Department of Engineering and Materials Science, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
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