With a combination of existing methods, some new tricks, and a drop of water, researchers have found a way of stamping carbon-nanotube circuits onto virtually any surface. The technique might lead to bright, flexible displays and to more-powerful wireless-communications chips.
Carbon nanotubes are chicken wire–style networks of carbon atoms rolled up to form hollow rods that are only nanometers across. The alignment of the chicken wire hexagons relative to the axis of a nanotube determines its electronic properties. Correspondingly, when nanotubes form, some turn out to be semiconductors, while others emerge as better conductors than any metal.