Super Stretchy Nanowires May Pave The Way For Flexible Electronics

Researchers have developed nanowires that are as strong as they are stretchy, making them ideal for electronic skins.

AsianScientist (Aug. 19, 2016) – An international research team has created extremely elastic silicon nanowires that are ideal for flexible electronic applications such as electronic skins and biological probes. Their work has been published in Science Advances.

Due to their attractive physical properties, silicon nanowires are a key building block for nanoelectronics. However, technologies that require large deformation, such as flexible electronics, skin electronics, and more recently nano-biointerfaces, place extreme demands on silicon nanowire elasticity.

Previous work has shown that silicon structures become more elastic when their lengths are reduced to the micro- and nanoscale; in fact, many nanomaterials can be stretched over an extended time period without premature failure.

In a series of experiments performed at room temperature, Zang Hongti at the City University of Hong Kong and colleagues grew single crystalline, atomically smooth silicon nanowires using a vapor-solid-liquid method.

They showed that these wires can be repeatedly stretched above ten percent elastic strain, approaching the theoretical silicon elastic strain limit of 17-20 percent. The nanowires are so stretchy that they are considered ‘deep ultra-strength,’ such that they surpass their ‘ultra-strength’ counterparts in existence today.

Just how close scientists can come to the theoretical elastic strain limit for silicon nanowires is of great practical and fundamental interest. Experimentally achieving ultra-strength and ultra-high elasticity for semiconductor nanowires will not only be important for building new devices, but also for emerging elastic strain engineering applications like thin films and nanomembranes, the researchers say.

The article can be found at: Zhang et al. (2016) Approaching the Ideal Elastic Strain Limit in Silicon Nanowires.


Source: Science Advances; Photo: Shutterstock.
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