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Sound Waves Precisely Position Nanowires

By Penn State News

June 25, 2013

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Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have used sound waves to place nanowires in repeatable patterns for potential use in a variety of sensors, optoelectronics, and nanoscale circuits.

"Our process allows pattern transfer of arrays of these nanomaterials onto substrates that might not be compatible with conventional lithography," says PSU professor Tony Jun Huang.

The researchers applied an alternating current to the substrate so that the material's movement creates a standing surface acoustic wave in the solution. They found that using one current results in a one-dimensional array, while using perpendicular currents results in a two-dimensional grid of standing waves.

"Because the pitch of both the one-dimensional and two-dimensional structures is sensitive to the frequency of the standing surface acoustic wave field, this technique allows for the patterning of nanowires with tunable spacing and density," the researchers note.

The nanowires in solution will settle in place onto the substrate when the solution evaporates, preserving the pattern. The researchers say the patterned nanowires could then be transferred to organic polymer substrates with good precision by placing the polymer atop the nanowires and transferring the nanowires with slight pressure. They suggest the nanowires could then be transferred to rigid or flexible substrates from the organic polymer using microcontact-printing methods.

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