Feeds

Researchers build nano 'trees'

Technology branches out

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

Swedish researchers have managed to grow leaves on nano trees. These branching networks of nanoscale wires have huge potential in solar cells, low energy lighting and sensors, the researchers say. It might even be possible to make the trees mimick photosynthesis.

This announcement follows a similar breakthrough in the US: Charles Lieber and his colleagues at Harvard speculate the technology could lead to "three-dimensionally interconnected computing structures analogous to the brain".

Both teams of researchers found a way to make grow branches from nanoscale semiconductor wires. Lieber et al repeated the process twice, creating tree-like structures. The Swedish team, led by Professor Lars Samuelson, have managed a third iteration, and have grown tertiary branches which, in keeping with the tree analogy, they call 'leaves'. "This opens the possibility of producing ever more complex structures on the nano scale," Samuelson said.

Building a tree is an iterative process. To begin, the researchers use chemical deposition of a vapour of a semiconducting material - silicon, indium arsenide or gallium hosphide, for instance - on catalytic gold seeds. The semiconductor crystals form directly on the gold seeds. The more time the deposition phase gets, the longer the wires will be. To get the branches, just spray the wires with gold dust, and repeat the process.

Professor Samuelson suggests a new line of research could be growing branches out of different materials that the trunks. It may be possible that the properties of the trees could be tailored so that they could convert sunlight to electricity. Theresearchers also suggest the trees could be used to make efficient lighting systems.

More basic research must be done: certainly the manufacturing process will need to get cheaper if these applications are to have a commercial future. However, the team is confident they can make it happen and have formed a spin off company - QuMat Technologies AB - to investigate the possibilities. ®

Related stories

The fastest nanotube in the west
Xerox moots roll-your-own monitor
Nanotech buckyballs kill fish

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.