Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have created the world's first all-integrated sensor circuit based on nanowire arrays, combining light sensors and electronics made of different crystalline materials. Their method can be used to reproduce numerous such devices with high uniformity.
Nanostructures made with specific chemical, electronic, and other properties have a number of advantages over the same materials in bulk. For example, a nanowire is an ideal shape for a light detector; being virtually one-dimensional, practically "all surface," a nanowire is not only highly sensitive to light energy, but its electronic response is greatly enhanced as well.
To be practical, however, the photosensors must be integrated with electronics on the same chip. And the materials that make an ideal photosensor are necessarily different from those that make a good transistor.
"Our integration of arrays of nanowires that perform separate functions and are made of heterogeneous substances and doing this in a way that can be reproduced on a large scale in a controlled way is a first," says Ali Javey, who led the research team. Javey is a staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD) and an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department at UC Berkeley. He and his colleagues report their work in the August 1 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
To grow a crystalline material on another crystalline material is difficult if the crystal lattices of the two materials are highly mismatched. Lattice matching is a particular challenge when more than one kind of material must be assembled on the same substrate. While many nanowire devices involving circuitry have been created over the years, these have required carefully selected substr
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DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory