Researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, Purdue University and IBM have succeeded in growing silicon-germanium semiconducting nanowires that could result in the next generation of ever-smaller electronic devices. They measure between a few tens to a few hundreds of nanometers in diameter and can be as large as a few millimeters, and have taught researchers the physics involved in the growing of nanowires.
The development team demonstrated nanowires with layers of the different silicon and germanium materials that were atomically sharp and therefore more efficient at carrying electronic charges. The prototypes had an interface close to just one atom. A lack of sharpness has been the traditional stumbling block in the creation of nanowires.
The study's co-author and UCLA professor of materials science and engineering, Suneel Kodambaka, also believes the silicon-germanium nanostructures have thermoelectric applications. They could also find their way into automobiles.
The next step is to make the new nanowires on a slightly larger scale, and determine whether they will be more suitable than conventional nanowires in terms of their electronic properties.