A nanowire is an extremely thin wire with a diameter on the order of a few nanometer s (nm) or less, where 1 nm = 10 -9 meters. Two processes in nanotechnology by which nanowires can be manufactured are suspension and deposition.
A suspended nanowire is held up by the ends in an evacuated chamber, and then is chemically etched or bombarded with high-speed atom s or molecule s to reduce its diameter. Another method involves indenting the surface of a wire in the center of a suspended span, raising the temperature, and then stretching the wire while it is near its melting point. A deposited nanowire is fabricated on a surface consisting of some non-conducting substance such as plastic or glass. The process is similar to that by which semiconductor chips are grown, except that the result is a linear (one-dimensional) structure rather than a flat (two-dimensional) or solid (three-dimensional) structure.
Fields expected to benefit from nanotechnology include water purification, sanitation, agriculture, alternative energy (particularly photovoltaics), home and business construction, computer manufacturing, communications, and medicine.