The 'coolest' semiconductor nanowires

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 06:30 in Physics & Chemistry

( -- Semiconductor nanowires are essential materials in the development of cheaper and more efficient solar cells, as well as batteries with higher storage capacity. Moreover, they are important building blocks in nanoelectronics. However, manufacturing semiconductor nanowires on an industrial scale is very expensive. The main reason for this is the high temperatures at which they are produced (600−900 C), as well as the use of expensive catalysts, such as gold. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, formerly the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, have now been able to produce crystalline semiconductor nanowires at a much lower temperature (150 C) while using inexpensive catalysts, such as aluminium. In this way, nanostructured semiconductors can even be deposited directly on heat-sensitive plastic substrates.

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