A new “nano machine shop” that shapes nanowires
and ultrathin films could represent a future manufacturing method for tiny
structures with potentially revolutionary properties.
The structures might be tuned for applications ranging from
high-speed electronics to solar cells, and also may have greater strength and
unusual traits such as ultrahigh magnetism and “plasmonic resonance,”
which could lead to improved optics, computers, and electronics.
The researchers used their technique to stamp nano- and
microgears; form tiny circular shapes out of a graphene; and change the shape
of silver nanowires, says Gary Cheng, an associate professor of
industrial engineering at Purdue University.
“We do this shaping at room temperature and atmospheric
pressure, like a nano machine shop,” says Cheng, who is working with
doctoral students Ji Li, Yiliang Liao, Ting-Fung Chung, and Sergey Suslov and physics
professor Yong P. Chen.
Graphene and nanowires have numerous potential applications.
However, technologies are needed to tailor them for specific uses. The new
method, called laser shock-induced shaping, makes it possible to tune nanowires
by altering electrical and optoelectrical properties that are critical for
The researchers also have shown how laser shock-induced
shaping can be used to change the properties of graphene, a step toward
harnessing the material for electronic applications.
Findings were detailed in research papers published in Nano
Letters, and the work also was highlighted in Nature Photonics.
The technique works by using a multilayered sandwich
structure that has a tiny mold at the bottom. Nanowires were situated directly
above the mold, and other materials were layered between the nanowires and a
glass cover sheet. Exposing this layered “forming unit” to an ultrafast
pulsing laser causes one of the layers to burn up, generating a downward
pressure that forces the nanowires into the mold and changes their shape.
“The process could be scaled up for an industrial
roll-to-roll manufacturing process by changing laser beam size and scanning
speed,” Cheng says. “The laser shock-induced shaping approach is fast
Source: Purdue University