A gadget without LEDs is like hug without a squeeze or apple pie without cheese -- no blinkenlights no care. But, what about nanoscale gadgets? Previously things that were smaller than LEDs naturally couldn't offer their charming glow, but now nanobots too can assault your rods, cones, and good taste thanks to a new process of creating "nano-LEDS" developed by Babak Nikoobakht and Andrew Herzing at NIST. They're really just nanowires, but these have a very different composition than usual due to their method of creation: growing horizontally like vines instead of vertically like trees. By growing them along a gallium nitride surface the wire partially picks up that substance's composition and, with the addition of a little electric current, that GaN infusion causes the wires to glow. Appropriate, that, since gallium nitride is also used in the production of normal-sized LEDs. And thus, the science comes full-circle.

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Glowing nanowires could light up your life, one particle at a time