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John O | May 2019

Arranging nanowires into bent configurations improves durability in electronics applications

By Josh Perry, Editor


Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia demonstrated that arranging silver nanowires in bent configurations made them more durable for electronics applications.


Researchers Nitin Batra, Ahad Syed and Pedro Da Costa load a sample of their bent nanowires into the TEM for analysis. (KAUST)


They used transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to study the individual nanowires and how they reacted to stress. KAUST scientists also patented a robust, reusable chip that doesn’t require a membrane to support the nanoparticles.


According to a report from KAUST, “The researchers suspended silver nanowires from platinum electrodes over their custom-made TEM chips and applied a range of voltages until the nanowires failed due to heating by the electrical current. They found that straight nanowires tended to snap when they reached a certain high current density, at points determined by local structural defects.”


When the nanowires were bent from the beginning, the samples buckled at high voltages and demonstrated self-healing properties that enabled them to avoid snapping and stay connected.


The research was recently published in Nanoscale. The abstract read:


“A number of metallic one-dimensional nanostructures have been proposed as interconnects for next-generation electronic devices. Generally, reports on charge transport properties consider low current density regimes in nanowires (or nanotubes) with intrinsically straight configurations. In these circumstances, direct observations of the interconnecting nanofilament electrical failure are scarce, particularly for initially crooked structures.


“Here, the electrical and structural responses of suspended silver nanowires exposed to increasing current densities were analysed using in situ transmission electron microscopy. At low rates of bias application, initially straight nanowires showed trivial behaviour up to their breakdown, with electromigration and gradual necking taking place.


“By contrast, these nanowires with an initially crooked configuration exhibit a mixed set of responses which included string-like resonance and structural rearrangements. Remarkably, it was observed that restructuring does not necessarily compromise the transport function of these interconnectors.


“Hence, initially crooked nanowires could import higher resilience to future nanoelectronic devices by delaying catastrophic breakdown of interconnectors subjected to unexpected current surges.”


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