KNOXVILLE—Researchers from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville recently garnered national attention for their part in a study that could lead to the development of tablets, televisions, and mobile devices the width of a piece of paper.
First published in Nature, the article details how researchers have been able to create wires only three atoms wide using an electron beam.
The lead researcher on the project was Vanderbilt Ph.D. student Junhao Lin, who was a visiting scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the time.
Through the ORNL connection, UT’s Stephen Pennycook, David Mandrus, and Jiaqiang Yan—all of the College of Engineering’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering—got involved.
It’s the second time Yan and Mandrus have found recognition in Nature in less than two months. The pair’s research also was part of an article in early March on a University of Washington-led effort to reduce the size of LEDs.
“The role of my group was to supply some of the materials used in the study,” Mandrus said. “It’s very similar to the way we worked with the University of Washington group on the LEDs. The materials were grown in my lab in the Science and Engineering Research Facility.”
Called nanowires, the eventual products are of a flexible metallic nature, and only one one-thousandth the width of the current microscopic wires used to connect transistors in today’s circuits.
The idea is that it would now be possible to stack such small wires together in clusters—researchers used a Lego block analogy—to build layers and circuits that would allow for a great reduction in the size of electronic products.
In addition to a reduction in size, the process could also make TV screens and tablets flexible, something that could prevent countless repairs.
The article in Nature is available here.