Jan 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:39 AM EST

Researchers Have Constructed The World's Thinnest One-Dimensional Metallic Nanowire

May 22, 2017 08:03 AM EDT


The researchers from The University of Cambridge and Warwick have constructed the world's thinnest metallic nanowire. These nanowires are made by injecting tellurium into carbon nanotubes making it a one-dimensional material.

The actual sizes of nanowires are ranging between 0.7 nanometers (nm) and 1.1 nm, approximately 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, Phys.Org reported. Now, in the three-dimensional universe, it's impossible for a material to be truly one-dimensional or two-dimensional because a single sheet of paper still has thickness.

It means elements on the periodic table actually occupy three dimensions in space. But in the field of nanowires, one-atom-thick structures are considered as one-dimensional (1D) due to the arrangement of a single atom and making them useful for semiconductors and other electronic applications.

However, Cambridge researchers said to make a stable one-dimensional (1D) material, encapsulating nanowire is not a useful method and it necessary to prevent them from breaking. According to them, it is possible to alter the shape and electronic behavior of the nanowires by varying the diameters of the tubes which encapsulate them.

Since the 1960s, as per Moore's Law, the number of transistors on a single chip has doubled every two years. Scientists also said to make electronics faster and more powerful, more transistors need to be squeezed onto semiconductor chips, Science Alert reported. Currently, researchers are investigating that how to make faster, cheaper and more powerful electronics. They also said one-dimensional materials could be one of the solutions to the challenge of miniaturization.

Now the researchers used computer simulations to predict the types of geometric structures. Not only that they are able to successfully 'build' stable 1D wires, but they found that changing the diameter of the nanotubes lead to changes in the properties of tellurium. Actually, tellurium behaves as a semiconductor but when it reacts with carbon nanotubes it starts behaving like a metal.

Lead scientist, Paulo Medeiros of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory said carbon nanotubes are chemically quite inert, so they help solve one of the problems when trying to create truly one-dimensional materials. They are still trying to understand the physics and chemistry of these systems. There are still lots of physics to be uncovered, Paulo Medeiros said.

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