Formless And Hard Silicon Could Be Grown Into Nanowires, Useful For Future Bendable Electronics

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Silicon, which is known to be a semiconductor material in electronic components and described as formless and brittle, can be grown into superelastic horseshoe-shaped nanowires according to scientists. The discovery could be useful for stretchable or bendable electronics in the future.

The findings of the study were published in the current issue of Nano Letters. The study was led by scientists from Nanjing University, Peking University, and CNRS-Ecole Polytechnique.

Silicon (Si) is a chemical element and is known to be a metalloid together with the other six elements namely boron, germanium, antimony, arsenic, polonium, and tellurium. It is abundant on the earth and has many uses.

This element is the main ingredient in concrete, bricks, and glass, which contain non-metal qualities. It is also used as a semiconductor of electricity, which becomes very useful in modern electronics. Once the silicon is heated into a molten state, it could become semi-conductive wafers that acts as a base for integrated circuits such as microchips, according to Live Science.

In the new study, the scientists discovered that the silicon nanowire springs could be stretched by more than twice their original length. Despite the length of the stretching, they could maintain their exceptional electric properties and recover their original shape once released. The scientists are planning to examine a number of techniques for transmitting the silicon nanosprings from the growth substrate onto a softer surface, according to Phys.Org.

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The discovery could play a significant role in developing high-performance stretchable silicon electronics in the coming days. It was discovered that almost all of the stretchable electronics that have been studied were made of polymer and organic semiconductors, which were found to be unsatisfactory to silicon.

Linwei Yu, the co-author of the study from Nanjing University and Peking University, said that their vision is to develop a new wafer technology that could serve the needs of the electronics and delivers a powerful and stretchable crystalline silicon channels that could provide outstanding performance into the emerging soft electronics. He further said that their demonstration has shown the development of silicon springs, with their immediate application being for mechanical devices, field-effect devices, skin for sensors, and NEMS. He is also hoping that the new results will come out soon.