Advances in nanowires may occur on a pretty regular basis these days, but this new development out of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems could have a particularly big impact on one all-important area: cost. As PhysOrg reports, manufacturing semiconducter nanowires at an industrial scale is currently very expensive because they need to be produced at extremely high temperatures (600 to 900 degrees Celsius), and the process used to manufacture them generally uses pure gold as a catalyst, which obviously adds to the cost. This new process, however, can use inexpensive materials like aluminum as a catalyst, and it can produce crystalline semiconductor nanowires at temperatures of just 150 degrees Celsius. Of course, that's all still only being done in the lab at the moment, and there's no indication as to when it might actually be more widely used.
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