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Materials

Wee Welding With Nanosolder

Sheffield chemists weld nanowires together via a nanoscale soldering technique carried out in a scanning electron microscope

by Bethany Halford
December 22, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 51

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Credit: Nano Lett.
Using a new welding technique, Sheffield scientists spelled the word NANO from gold nanowires.
Credit: Nano Lett.
Using a new welding technique, Sheffield scientists spelled the word NANO from gold nanowires.

Chemists can craft a menagerie of metallic nanoscale objects, but building those bits into working devices is tricky. Now, Beverley Inkson, Yong Peng, and Tony Cullis of Sheffield University, in England, have developed one way to do it by welding nanowires together via a nanoscale soldering technique (Nano Lett., DOI: 10.1021/nl8025339). Simply bringing nanoobjects into contact with one another doesn't ensure reliable, long-lasting bonds that are required for practical devices. Researchers previously developed a number of ways to connect nanoscale objects, but these approaches aren't yet practical for industrial applications. The new technique is much like macroscale soldering in which a filler metal is melted to join metal pieces together. Instead of a soldering iron, the Sheffield team uses the manipulators of a scanning electron microscope to place a piece of sacrificial metal nanowire where the nanoobjects are to be joined. They then apply an electric current, which welds the assembly together. The technique can fuse objects as small as 10 nm and could be used to fabricate nanosensors and nanoelectronics.

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