Hydrogen yields smaller nanowires

March 26/April 2, 2003

Researchers from City University of Hong Kong in China have produced silicon wires that are smaller than any made before.

The wires, which can be used in nanoelectronics, have diameters as small as 1.3 nanometers, which is the size of a row of 13 hydrogen atoms. The researchers' tests show that the wires are stable and can be used in nanoscale computer chips, light emitting diodes and lasers.

The key to the wires' stability is the presence of hydrogen rather than the usual oxygen on the outside surfaces of the wires. The researchers produce the more stable wires by dipping them in an acid bath. This extra-stable configuration made it easier to image the wires with a scanning tunneling microscope, and makes the wires more suitable for electronics than ordinary silicon nanowires.

The researchers' tests showed that wires with diameters ranging from 7 nanometers to 1.3 nanometers reacted to light differently, which could make it possible to use the wires as tiny light-emitting-diodes and lasers. The work appeared in the February 20, 2003 issue of Science.

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