Nanowires three atoms wide could lead to paper-thin gadgets

Vanderbilt University / Oak Ridge's ultra-thin nanowires

What's that odd shape, you ask? That's the world's thinnest nanowire -- and it could be the key to a future wave of flexible devices. In blasting single-layered, semiconducting materials with an electron beam, Vanderbilt University student Junhao Lin has created wires that measure just three atoms wide while remaining strong and very bendy. Since there are already transistors and memory gates made out of the same material, Lin envisions circuits and whole devices that are paper-thin, yet can stand up to abuse; in the long run, he envisions rollable tablets and TVs that could fit in your pocket. The technique could help produce 3D circuitry, too. We're still a long way from either of those becoming practical realities, but the discovery at least shows that they're technically possible.