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Stanford engineers use light to weld nanowires

A team of Stanford engineers developed a new means of welding nanowires together, using a simple blast of light to fuse the wires into an electrically conductive mesh, according to a press release from the School of Engineering.


The welding process employs the physics of plasmonics, which is the interaction of light and metal, to create a lattice of nanowires without the risk of damage induced by heating or pressing the wires into a mesh. Using light allows the welding to automatically stop once the nanowires are fused together, minimizing the risk of damage to the mesh.


The refined technique also causes no damage to the underlying material supporting the mesh, and the precise heating in nanoscale welding enables more control, speed and energy efficiency.


The Stanford team’s discovery has significant potential in fields such as video displays, solar cells, LEDs and touch-screens. The mesh formed by the fused nanowires offers exceptional electrical throughput, low cost and easy processing.


The new technique also allows mesh electrodes to be bound to flexible or transparent plastics and polymers. The mesh will retain its electrical properties even after the supporting material is distorted, and could potentially be employed as an inexpensive window coating generating solar power while dimming glare.


Marshall Watkins