In a step toward a cheaper, easier way to connect computer chips to computers, scientists have patterned semiconductors with a film of extremely small gold particles. The nanoscale detailing might also lead to other applications: new sensors for detecting chemical weapons, novel chemical catalysts, and better ways of delivering medicines.
The contacts that connect tiny components of a computer chip to a much larger wire are often made of gold because it doesn't react with air easily. The metal is expensive, however.
In the new work, Jillian Buriak, Lon Porter Jr., and their colleagues at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., use gold leftovers from coin-making factories. This so-called gold salt is inexpensive and can be converted into relatively pure gold particles, says Buriak.