Researchers from CNRS and the Université de Strasbourg, headed by Nicolas Giuseppone and Bernard Doudin, have succeeded in making highly conductive plastic fibers that are only several nanometers thick. These nanowires, for which CNRS has filed a patent, "self-assemble" when triggered by a flash of light. Inexpensive and easy to handle, unlike carbon nanotubes, they combine the advantages of the two materials currently used to conduct electric current: metals and plastic organic polymers. In fact, their remarkable electrical properties are similar to those of metals.
Their first important finding was that, when triggered by a flash of light, the fibers self-assemble solely between the electrodes. The second surprising result was that these structures, which are as light and flexible as plastics, turn out to be capable of transporting extraordinary current densities, above 2.10^6 Amperes per square centimeter (A.cm-2), approaching those of copper wire. In addition, they have very low interface resistance with metals (6) : 10,000 times below that of the best organic polymers.
The researchers now hope to demonstrate that their fibers can be used industrially in miniaturized electronic devices such as flexible screens, solar cells, transistors, printed nanocircuits, etc.
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Vina Faramarzi, Frédéric Niess, Emilie Moulin, Mounir Maaloum, Jean-François Dayen, Jean-Baptiste Beaufrand, Silvia Zanettini, Bernard Doudin, Nicolas Giuseppone. Light-triggered self-construction of supramolecular organic nanowires as metallic interconnects. Nature Chemistry, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1332