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Materials

Germanium Nanowires Made Simply

Electrochemical method offers simple route to nanowire arrays of prized material

by Mitch Jacoby
September 15, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 37

Germanium isn’t one of the more popular materials in high-tech gadgets, but it ought to be. It can conduct positive and negative charges through electronic devices better than silicon. And for lithium-ion battery use, germanium boasts a larger theoretical charge-discharge capacity than graphite, the standard anode material. But germanium is difficult and expensive to process. A team led by Jay A. Switzer of Missouri University of Science & Technology may have a simple solution. The team electrochemically reduces a layer of indium tin oxide sitting in contact with an aqueous Ge(IV) solution. That step decorates the underlying layer with evenly dispersed In particles, which serve as reduction sites for dissolved germanium species and as a medium in which germanium crystallizes. Continuous reduction and dissolution of germanium lead to saturation of germanium in indium and to growth of dense arrays of indium-tipped germanium nanowires (ACS Nano 2014, DOI: 10.1021/nn503784d). The high conductivity of the wires should make them ideal for Li-ion battery applications, the team suggests.

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