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Friday, 29 July 2011

Nanowire electronics that can be shaped to fit any surface and attach to any material developed at Stanford

Standford Univiersity
July 28, 2011

Stanford researchers have developed a new method of attaching nanowire electronics to the surface of virtually any object, regardless of its shape or what material it is made of. The method could be used in making everything from wearable electronics and flexible computer displays to high-efficiency solar cells and ultrasensitive biosensors.

Nanowire electronics are promising building blocks for virtually every digital electronic device used today, including computers, cameras and cell phones. The electronic circuitry is typically fabricated on a silicon chip. The circuitry adheres to the surface of the chip during fabrication and is extremely difficult to detach, so when the circuitry is incorporated into an electronic device, it remains attached to the chip. But silicon chips are rigid and brittle, limiting the possible uses of wearable and flexible nanowire electronics.

The key to the new method is coating the surface of the silicon wafer with a thin layer of nickel before fabricating the electronic circuitry. Nickel and silicon are both hydrophilic, or "water-loving," meaning when they are exposed to water after fabrication of nanowire devices is finished, the water easily penetrates between the two materials, detaching the nickel and the overlying electronics from the silicon wafer.
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