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Nat Mater. 2004 Jun;3(6):375-9. Epub 2004 May 9.

Strain-controlled growth of nanowires within thin-film cracks.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Materialverbunde, Technische Fakultät der Universität Kiel, Germany.


There is continued interest in finding quicker and simpler ways to fabricate nanowires, even though research groups have been investigating possibilities for the past decade. There are two reasons for this interest: first, nanowires have unusual properties-for example, they show quantum-mechanical confinement effects, they have a very high surface-to-volume ratio, enabling them to be used as sensors, and they have the ability to connect to individual molecules. Second, no simple method has yet been found to fabricate nanowires over large areas in arbitrary material combinations. Here we describe an approach to the generation of well-defined nanowire network structures on almost any solid material, up to macroscopic sample sizes. We form the nanowires within cracks in a thin film. Such cracks have a number of properties that make them attractive as templates for nanowire formation: they are straight, scalable down to nanometre size, and can be aligned (by using microstructure to give crack alignment via strain). We demonstrate the production of nanowires with diameter <16 nm, both singly and as networks; we have also produced aligned patterns of nanowires, and nanowires with individual contacts.

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