New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires
A simple technique for producing oxide nanowires directly from bulk materials could dramatically lower the cost of producing the one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures. That could open the door for a broad range of uses in lightweight structural composites, advanced sensors, electronic devices - and thermally-stable and strong battery membranes able to withstand temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius.
The technique uses a solvent reaction with a bimetallic alloy - in which one of the metals is reactive - to form bundles of nanowires (nanofibers) upon reactive metal dissolution. The process is conducted at ambient temperature and pressure without the use of catalysts, toxic chemicals or costly processes such as chemical vapor deposition. The produced nanowires can be used to improve the electrical, thermal and mechanical properties of functional materials and composites.
The research, which is scheduled to be reported this week in the journal Science, was supported by the National Science Foundation and California-based Sila Nanotechnologies. The process is believed to be the first to convert bulk powders to nanowires at ambient conditions.