By Matt Wickenheiser
Nanosys Inc. co-founder and professor of chemistry at UC-Berkeley Peidong Yang has published a paper in which he and his graduate students describe a new synthetic method for growing heteronuclear semiconductor nanowires, 20 to 100nm in diameter, made of alternating blocks of both Si and SiGe on a single wire.
The study demonstrates exact control of both composition and structure of a new type of nanomaterial in which alternating segments of two different materials are generated and controlled at the nanometer scale.
Heterostructured nanowires represent a new class of materials that will aid in the construction of nanoscale electronics and optical devices.
The concept for Yang’s new materials resembles the idea of “living polymerization,” an advanced technology used to make highly controlled, high-quality polymer materials. By keeping the nanocrystalline growth “living” and simply changing the composition as a function of the growth time, Yang has demonstrated reportedly unprecedented control over crystal growth on the nanometer scale. This process is so well controlled, Nanosys claimed, that any pattern of the two materials could potentially be generated by simply programming the sequence into a computer.