Nanotech bubbles

Creating large-scale, regular arrays of nanoscale components is now almost as easy as blowing bubbles. Harvard University chemist Charles Lieber and his collaborators suspended nanocomponents in a liquid polymer and then blew bubbles from the liquid. As a bubble inflated and solidified, the nanocomponents in its polymer skin lined up with each other and took on even spacing.

Lieber Group/Nature Nanotechnology

The researchers have demonstrated the technique with silicon nanorods and carbon nanotubes, they report in the June Nature Nanotechnology. The photo above shows sections of a 50-centimeter-high bubble being attached to two vertical silicon wafers. Making large, mass-producible arrays of nanoscale devices has always been nanotechnology’s challenge. Cheap, easy-to-make nanotech films could have many uses. For example, arrays of organic, light-emitting polymer rods could be stretched over silicon wafers to create high-resolution displays, Lieber says.

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