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nanowire

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.

This was last updated in September 2005

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