Scientists grow 'nanonets' able to snare added energy transfer

Sep 02, 2008
Researchers at Boston College report creating nanonets, pictured here magnified 50,000 times. The novel nano-scale structure was grown from titanium and silicon in a two-dimensional network of wires that resembles flat, rectangular netting. Credit: Angewandte Chemie International

Using two abundant and relatively inexpensive elements, Boston College chemists have produced nanonets, a flexible webbing of nano-scale wires that multiplies surface area critical to improving the performance of the wires in electronics and energy applications.

Researchers grew wires from titanium and silicon into a two-dimensional network of branches that resemble flat, rectangular netting, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Professor Dunwei Wang and his team report in the international edition of the German Chemical Society journal Angewandte Chemie.

By creating nanonets, the team conquered a longstanding engineering challenge in nanotechnology: creating a material that is extremely thin yet maintains its complexity, a structural design large or long enough to efficiently transfer an electrical charge.

"We wanted to create a nano structure unlike any other with a relatively large surface area," said Wang. "The goal was to increase surface area and maintain the structural integrity of the material without sacrificing surface area and thereby improving performance."

Tests showed an improved performance in the material's ability to conduct electricity through high quality connections of the nanonet, which suggest the material could lend itself to applications from electronics to energy-harvesting, Wang said. Titanium disilicide (TiSi2) has been proven to absorb light across a wide range of the solar spectrum, is easily obtained, and is inexpensive. Metal silicides are also found in microelectronics devices.

The nanonets grew spontaneously from the bottom-up through simple chemical reactions, unprovoked by a catalyst, according to Wang and co-authors, post doctoral researcher Xiaohua Liu and graduate students Sa Zhou and Yongjing Lin.

Basic nano structures are commonly created in zero or one dimension, such as a dot composed of a small number of atoms. The most complex structures grow in three dimensions – somewhat resembling the branches of a tree. Working in 2D, Wang's team produced a web that under a microscope resembles a tree with all branches growing in the same perpendicular direction from the trunk.

Using titanium disilicide intrigued Wang because of the material's superior conductivity. Late last year, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry observed that a titanium disilicide semiconductor photo catalyst splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The semiconductor also stores the gases produced, enabling the simple separation of hydrogen and oxygen. So-called water splitting may play a key role in producing hydrogen for fuel.

"We're excited to have discovered this unique structure and we are already at work to gauge just how much the nanonet can improve the performance of a material that is already used in electronics and clean energy applications," said Wang.

The full paper can be viewed at www3.interscience.wiley.com/cg… t/121393485/PDFSTART

Source: Boston College

Explore further: Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A nanosized hydrogen generator

Sep 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —Researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have created a small scale "hydrogen generator" that uses light and a two-dimensional graphene platform to boost ...

A tree may have the answers to renewable energy

Jul 23, 2014

Through an energy conversion process that mimics that of a tree, a University of Wisconsin-Madison materials scientist is making strides in renewable energy technologies for producing hydrogen.

Recommended for you

Demystifying nanocrystal solar cells

15 hours ago

ETH researchers have developed a comprehensive model to explain how electrons flow inside new types of solar cells made of tiny crystals. The model allows for a better understanding of such cells and may ...

Researchers use oxides to flip graphene conductivity

Jan 26, 2015

Graphene, a one-atom thick lattice of carbon atoms, is often touted as a revolutionary material that will take the place of silicon at the heart of electronics. The unmatched speed at which it can move electrons, ...

Researchers make magnetic graphene

Jan 26, 2015

Graphene, a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, has many desirable properties. Magnetism alas is not one of them. Magnetism can be induced in graphene by doping it with magnetic ...

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made

Jan 23, 2015

Theoretical physicists at Rice University are living on the edge as they study the astounding properties of graphene. In a new study, they figure out how researchers can fracture graphene nanoribbons to get ...

Nanotechnology changes behavior of materials

Jan 23, 2015

One of the reasons solar cells are not used more widely is cost—the materials used to make them most efficient are expensive. Engineers are exploring ways to print solar cells from inks, but the devices ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.