Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nano-origami Used To Build Tiny Electronic Devices

Date:
February 27, 2009
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
Researchers are developing the basic principles of nano-origami, a new technique that allows engineers to fold nanoscale materials into simple 3-D structures. The tiny folded materials could be used as motors and capacitors, potentially leading to better computer memory storage, faster microprocessors and new nanophotonic devices.

A team of MIT researchers folded this polymer sheet into one corner of a cube. The edge of each face is about 800 microns.
Credit: Photo / Nader Shaar

Folding paper into shapes such as a crane or a butterfly is challenging enough for most people. Now imagine trying to fold something that's about a hundred times thinner than a human hair and then putting it to use as an electronic device.

A team of researchers led by George Barbastathis, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is developing the basic principles of "nano-origami," a new technique that allows engineers to fold nanoscale materials into simple 3-D structures. The tiny folded materials could be used as motors and capacitors, potentially leading to better computer memory storage, faster microprocessors and new nanophotonic devices.

Traditional micro- and nano-fabrication techniques such as X-ray lithography and nano-imprinting work beautifully for two-dimensional structures, and are commonly used to build microprocessors and other micro-electrical-mechanical (MEMS) devices. However, they cannot create 3-D structures.

"A lot of what's done now is planar," says Tony Nichol, a mechanical engineering graduate student working on the project. "We want to take all of the nice tools that have been developed for 2-D and do 3-D things."

The MIT team uses conventional lithography tools to pattern 2-D materials at the nanoscale, then folds them into predetermined 3-D shapes, opening a new realm of possible applications.

Smaller, faster

The researchers have already demonstrated a 3-D nanoscale capacitor, developed in collaboration with MIT Professor Yang Shao-Horn, which was presented at the 2005 meeting of the Electrochemical Society. The current model has only one fold but the more folds that are added, the more energy it will be able to store. Extra layers also promote faster information flow, just as the human brain's many folds allow for quicker communication between brain regions, says Nader Shaar, a mechanical engineering graduate student working on the project.

Getting the materials to fold back and forth into an accordion-like structure has been one of the researchers' biggest challenges, along with getting the faces and edges to line up accurately.

They have worked out several ways to induce the nanomaterials to fold, including:

  • Depositing metal (usually chromium) onto the surface where you want the fold to be. This causes the material to curl upward, but it does not allow for right angles or accordion-type folds.
  • Directing a beam of helium ions onto the desired fold location. The beams imprint patterns that will cause the material to fold once it's removed from the surface. High-energy beams go to the bottom of the material and cause it to fold up; ions from low-energy beams accumulate at the top of the material and make it fold down.
  • Embedding gold wires in the material. A current running along the gold wires interacts with an external magnetic field, creating a Lorentz force that lifts the face. This technique is a form of directed self-assembly, where the designer provides the template and then lets the device assemble itself.

The folded shapes can be fabricated with a few different types of material, including silicon, silicon nitride (a type of ceramic) and a soft polymer known as SU-8.

Once the material is folded, the tricky part is getting the faces to align properly. The researchers have developed a few ways to do this successfully: one uses magnets; another involves attaching polymers to a certain spot on the faces and melting them with an electric current, sealing the two faces together.

They're still working on getting faces and edges of a folded cube to line up with nanoscale precision, but Shaar, co-supervised by associate professor of mechanical engineering Carol Livermore, has devised a promising method that uses three pairs of matching holes and protrusions to pull the edge and face into alignment.

The researchers are deep in the development phase of their nano-folded devices, but they are starting to think about how the technology could be used in the future. "We've got the core components figured out, and now we're just having fun with figuring out some applications," says Nichol.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Nano-origami Used To Build Tiny Electronic Devices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227112309.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2009, February 27). Nano-origami Used To Build Tiny Electronic Devices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227112309.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Nano-origami Used To Build Tiny Electronic Devices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227112309.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins