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Nanowires of Unlimited Length 111

Posted by kdawson
from the eat-your-heart-out-spiderman dept.
StCredZero writes with word of a research team from the University of Illinois who have developed a way to manufacture nanowires of any length from various materials. Not, unfortunately, carbon nanotubes, or we would be looking for news on space elevators soon. The process is analogous to drawing with a fountain pen — as liquid is drawn from a reservoir, a solvent (water or an organic) evaporates and the solute precipitates onto a substrate. The researchers have demonstrated a way to spin and wind a nanowire onto a spool; they have produced a coil of microfiber 850 nm in diameter and 40 cm long. Here's the abstract from the journal Advanced Materials.
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Nanowires of Unlimited Length

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  • by arivanov (12034) on Monday February 11, 2008 @03:03AM (#22376758) Homepage
    In other news a goofy red-blue character with the habit of spinning threads of various lengths has been seen roaming the streets of New York.

    On a more serious note this is what many silk spinners do. They excrete silk as liquid and it becomes a wire or a sheet a few ms later. Some silk spinners manage threads which are in micrometers in diameter as well.
  • by stereoroid (234317) on Monday February 11, 2008 @03:54AM (#22376944) Homepage Journal
    Fibres in the m range are nothing new - that's where optical fibre lives, with the long-range fibres below 10 m. This story is about fibres in the nanometre range, a thousandth the diameter of optical fibre.

    I wonder how strong the fibre is, and how long it will be before it gets turned in to a weapon? Attach it to a stick, hang a weight on the other end, and whoops! there goes my head, rolling down the stairs.
  • by googlebear (625615) <ian@ia n r o e s s l e.org> on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:36AM (#22377072) Homepage
    Yeah the nano wires of quantum dots sounds very interesting. In my introduction to Nanotech course at school I did a presentation on qunatum dot cellular automata. Essentially they design logic circuits out of precisely laid out circuits of quantum dots. The technology is proof of concept and was awaiting improvements in production technologies . Maybe this will indeed be the key to unlocking 10-20ghz processors (They don't have the same leaky qualities when as densely packed as chips built with MOSFETT. They use electron interactions as a means of propagating signals as opposed to actual current flow) .. Anyhow here is a link to the university doing the research on QCA's for those of you interested... HERE [nd.edu] -Ian Roessle
  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday February 11, 2008 @04:50AM (#22377138)
    This could mean that artificial silk is around the corner. And I don't mean some silk-like synthetic but instead something with the exact properties of real silk but a much lower price. If they do manage to make silk that way I predict that in a few years silk will be the next big fad. Of course this doesn't work like a real silk gland at all, but maybe something workable can be achieved.

    Outside of the fashion world (where things actually matter), this might also mean a big step towards artificial spider silk, which a lot of people are very interested in - spider silk is very tough and is would be useful wherever you need a very light tough fabric, especially when you want something that is biodegradable. Currently we can produce the protein, but we can't spin it. Perhaps this technology might enable us to create something reasonably similar to real spider silk.
  • Re:wait... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slaingod (1076625) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:04AM (#22378178) Homepage
    Um, that wasn't the point. The point is that they are 850nm thick which is less than a micrometer. In no way is any dimension (of the usual 3 :) of your car less than 1 micrometer.
  • by StCredZero (169093) on Monday February 11, 2008 @12:25PM (#22380000)
    Space Elevators going up to geosynchronous orbit aren't needed, so carbon nanotubes aren't needed either. We could build a Space Pier [wisegeek.com] - which is a series of towers 100km tall with an accelerator on the top - out of pressurized cylindrical columns made out of boron. (The linked article talks about diamondoid materials, but other researchers have looked into more conventional materials which would allow us to build towers 100km high.) Also, Robert Zubrin has looked into a Hypersonic Skyhook [harvard.edu] which doesn't extend all the way to the ground or out to geosynch. However, it's a lot easier to design and build a SSTO or TSTO craft that can acheive 100km altitude and 4 or 5 km/s delta-v, as opposed to 8.5 km/s needed for low earth orbit. It is rumored that Burt Rutan's White Knight Two [wikipedia.org] is designed to also launch a higher performance rocket plane that could acheive this. (In addition to the Space Ship Two space tourism craft.)

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