Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently lit up the world of lighting technology as they unveiled a new type of glowing nanowires that feature properties similar to LEDs. The NIST team have dubbed their creation ‘nano-LEDs’, and they hope that the luminous filaments will soon be utilized in devices such as computer chips and nanogenerators.

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The team was actually doing research into making ultra-thin nanowires, however their experiments led to their product literally glowing in the dark. The happy accident occurred when the team attempted to ‘grow’ nanowires by depositing molecules, such as zinc oxide upon a base material. After that, the scientists start a process called chemical vapor deposition that causes nanowires to rise vertically from the base like hairs on skin. However there is a problem with this – as the wire only contacts the substrate at one end, it often does not share the properties of the substrate material, something that the scientists hoped to change.

This was achieved by growing the nanowires horizontally instead of vertically. On top of that the nanoparticles were infused with gold by superheating them, as well as putting zinc oxide nanocrystals into the gold particles along the substrate. This, in turn, formed the nanowires which, thanks to it touching all parts of the substrate, had uniform characteristics.

However, when the size of the gold particle was increased, scientists discovered that the wires grew a thin wall that allows electrons to flow through it, causing a LED-esque glow. The tiny lightning wires could have any number of purposes on a microscopic level and it will be interesting to see what the NIST team do with their new creation.


Via Eureka Alert