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Diamonds insulate nanowire

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Illustration shows the core of a nanowire, formed of copper and sulfur atoms (brown and yellow) encased in diamondoidsSLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

With the assistance of the tiniest possible bits of diamonds capable of maintaining a crystalline structure, called diamondoids, copper and sulfur atoms can fit together like Legos to produce a semiconducting nanowire three atoms wide. This network of diamondoid cages insulates the atoms, which form the core of the nanowire. The new material was produced by researchers at Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy (Nature Materials, December 26, 2016). “What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves,” says Hao Yan, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford and lead author of the paper. “The process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It’s almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go.”