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Nat Nanotechnol. 2010 Mar;5(3):218-24. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2010.4. Epub 2010 Feb 14.

Cold welding of ultrathin gold nanowires.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA.


The welding of metals at the nanoscale is likely to have an important role in the bottom-up fabrication of electrical and mechanical nanodevices. Existing welding techniques use local heating, requiring precise control of the heating mechanism and introducing the possibility of damage. The welding of metals without heating (or cold welding) has been demonstrated, but only at macroscopic length scales and under large applied pressures. Here, we demonstrate that single-crystalline gold nanowires with diameters between 3 and 10 nm can be cold-welded together within seconds by mechanical contact alone, and under relatively low applied pressures. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy and in situ measurements reveal that the welds are nearly perfect, with the same crystal orientation, strength and electrical conductivity as the rest of the nanowire. The high quality of the welds is attributed to the nanoscale sample dimensions, oriented-attachment mechanisms and mechanically assisted fast surface-atom diffusion. Welds are also demonstrated between gold and silver, and silver and silver, indicating that the technique may be generally applicable.

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