Nanowires, materials with 1000 times the diameter of a human hair and fascinating physical properties, have the potential to enable significant advances in a wide range of fields, from energy harvesters and sensors to information and quantum technologies. Their minuscule size, in particular, may enable the development of smaller transistors and miniaturized computer chips. However, one major impediment to realizing their full potential has been their inability to be precisely positioned within devices.
The conditions required to produce nanowires are too harsh for most electronic device manufacturing techniques. As a result, they are often grown on a separate substrate before being mechanically or chemically transferred to the device. However, nanowires are randomly placed on the chip surface in all existing transfer techniques, limiting their application in commercial devices.
A team of researchers describes a ground-breaking method for picking up single nanowires from the growth substrate and placing them with sub-micron accuracy on virtually any platform.
The researchers created first-of-their-kind nanowire devices thanks to the new pick-and-place assembly process. By allowing users to integrate nanowires with existing on-chip platforms, whether electronic or photonic, they will be able to unlock physical properties that have previously been unattainable. Furthermore, the technique could be fully automated, opening the door to full-scale fabrication of high-quality nanowire-integrated chips.