Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) say they have developed a material that, when heated to about 450 degrees Celsius, transforms from an atomically thin, two-dimensional sheet into an array of one-dimensional nanowires, each only a few atoms wide.
The researchers caught an image of the material during the transformation, and found it looks like a tiny U.S. flag.
"The phase transition we observed, this new structure, was not predicted by theory," says UT Dallas professor Moon Kim.
Since the nanowires are semiconductors, they could be used as switching devices, just as silicon is used in conventional transistors to turn electric current on and off.
In addition, the nanowires are about 10 times smaller than the smallest silicon wires, and could result in powerful, energy-efficient devices.
The researchers next want to determine how to separate out the individual nanowires, and overcome challenges in manufacturing and mass production.
From UT Dallas News Center
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