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December 2009 Volume 4 No 12

Researchers are able to control many of the properties of semiconductor nanowires including their composition, doping, crystal structure and orphology. However, progress towards the ab initio design and growth of hierarchical nanostructures has been limited. Now Charles Lieber and co-workers have demonstrated a 'nanotectonic' approach that provides iterative control over the nucleation and growth of nanowires, and they have used this approach to grow kinked or zigzag nanowires in which straight sections of controllable length are separated by triangular joints. Moreover, the growth direction remains coherent along the nanowire. They have also grown nanowires with specific device functions, such as p-n diodes and field-effect transistors, localized at the kinked junctions. The image on the cover is a composite of the same false-colour scanning electron microscope image of a single multiply-kinked nanowire with a diameter of 80 nm and a segment length of 1 microm.

Image credit: B. Tian and C. Lieber.

Letter p824

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