Nanowires: Uses and Applications of Nanowires
The properties of nanowires have caused researchers and companies to
consider using this material in several fields.
Nanowires Applications in Energy
Researchers at MIT have developed a solar cell using
with zinc oxide nanowires. The researchers believe that this method will
allow the production of low cost flexible solar cells at high enough
efficiency to be competive.
Sensors powered by electricity generated by
piezoelectric zinc oxide nanowires. This could allow
small, self contained, sensors
powered by mechanical energy such as tides or wind
Researchers are using a method called Aerotaxy to grow
on gold nanoparticles. They plan to use self assembly techniques to
align the nanowires on a substrate; forming a solar cell or other electrical
devices. The gold nanoparticles replace the silicon substrate on which
conventional semiconductor based solar cells are built.
Researchers at the Nies Bohr Institute have
determined that sunlight
can be concentrated in nanowires due to a resonance effect. This
effect can result in more efficient solar cells, allowing more of the
energy from the sun to be converted to electricity.
Using light absorbing
embedded in a flexible polymer film is another method being developed to produce low cost
flexible solar panels.
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley have
demonstrated an inexpensive process for making
solar cells. These solar cells are composed of cadmium sulfide nanowires coated with copper sulfide.
Researchers at Stanford University have grown silicon nanowires
on a stainless steel substrate and demonstrated that batteries using
these anodes could have up to 10 times the power density of conventional lithium ion batteries. Using silicon nanowires, instead of bulk silicon fixes a problem of the silicon cracking, that has been seen on electrodes using bulk silicon. The cracking is caused because the silicon swells it absorbs lithium ions while being recharged, and contracts as the battery is discharged and the lithium ions leave the silicon. However the researchers found that while the silicon nanowires swell as lithium ions are absorbed during discharge of the battery and contract as the lithium ions leave during recharge of the battery the nanowires do not crack, unlike anodes that used bulk silicon.
Nanowire Applications in the Enviroment
Using silver chloride nanowires as a
photocatalysis to decompose organic molecules in polluted water.
Using an electrified filter composed of silver nanowires, carbon nanotubes and
cotton to kill bacteria in water.
Using nanowire mats to absorb
Nanowire Applications in Electronics
Using electrodes made from
that would enable flat panel displays to be flexible as well as
thinner than current flat panel displays.
Using nanowires to build
Using nanowires made of an alloy of iron and
nickel to create dense memory devices. By
applying a current magnetized sections along the
length of the wire. As the magnetized sections move along the wire, the
data is read by a stationary sensor. This method is called
embedded in a polymer to make conductive layers that can flex,
without damaging the conductor.
Sensors using zinc oxide nano-wire
detection elements capable of detecting a range of chemical
Earl Boysen of Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, LLC and
UnderstandingNano.com. You can find him on