The stacked slabs of flat rocks called inukshuks, which mark trails and other important locations in the Arctic, have been cultural icons for Inuit people for thousands of years. Now, the icons' signature structure is inspiring nanotechnologists. Chemists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton have created miniature versions of these traditional sculptures in silver. More than a stunt, the nano-inukshuks could facilitate the development of next-generation sensors and electronic devices.
As reported in an upcoming Nano Letters, the researchers immersed a centimeter-square wafer of the semiconductor germanium in a solution of silver nitrate. As silver ions dissociated from the nitrate, they settled onto the semicon