Engineers use light to weld nanowires
Researchers at the University of Stanford have found a way to weld metallic nanowires together to form a nanomesh. Instead of using heat and pressure – the usual methods of welding – which would simply break the wires, the team of engineers used something far more delicate: light.
The technique is based on principles of plasmonics, the scientific study of how metal and light interact.
The engineers knew that when two nanowires meet, light creates plasmon waves at the intersection. This creates a hot spot at the exact point where the two separate nanowires meet.
This very tiny degree of heat welds the two wires together without breaking or even distorting them.
The best part about this method is that the moment the two wires are welded and cease to be two separate parts, the heat generation automatically stops. As one of the study’s authors Mark Brongersma noted, “It’s self-limiting.”
The method, therefore, provides a very precise, safe, quick, and energy-efficient method of nanoscale welding.
Hypothetically, the nanomeshes produced in this manner could be used in new-generation light-emitting diodes, touch screens, thin-film solar cells, and other technologically advanced electronic devices.
The study was published in the journal Nature Materials on 5 January.