Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have come up with a way to use a special conductive gas that acts like the condensation on a winter window, and nanotechnology in the form of lines of nanowires that act much like the writing on the pane of cold glass.
Developed by a team led by Materials and Engineering Professor Mr. Chang-Beom Eom, the discovery has far more useful applications than just a child’s game of writing on a condensed surface. It is expected to help in the creation of next-generation memory or so called tiny transistors.
Eom’s team has developed ways to make structures that are based on electronic oxides which can also be incorporated into a silicon substrate, which is one of the most widely used electronic device platforms.
This discovery is important to the world because it allows oxides to be grown on silicon, a previously impossible task because oxides and silicon have a different crystal makeup. Eom’s team found a way to combine single-crystal expitaxy, etching and postannealing that allowed the oxides to work with the silicon.
This method makes it possible to make a three-atom thick layer of lanthanum-aluminum-oxide remain in contact with strontium-titanium-oxide, making the complete structure placed on top a substrate of silicon. What makes it conductive is because an electron gas is made when the two layers interface and a scanning probe microscope can be used to create a line of electrons by dragging its tip across the surface to make lines of electrons, which then forms nano wires.
The lines can be explained by comparing them to the lines children draw on a cold window pane in the condensation that forms when it’s cold. Scientists found they could not only write lines of nanowires, they could also drag the tip of the microscope back over them to erase the lines.
The discoveries were published Oct. 19 by the journal Nature Communications.