Nanowires have the potential to revolutionize the technology around us.
Measuring just 5-100 nanometers in diameter (a nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter), these tiny, needle-shaped crystalline structures can alter how electricity or light passes through them.
They can emit, concentrate and absorb light and could therefore be used to add optical functionalities to electronic chips.
They could, for example, make it possible to generate lasers directly on silicon chips and to integrate single-photon emitters for coding purposes.
They could even be applied in solar panels to improve how sunlight is converted into electrical energy.
But researchers from EPFL's Laboratory of Semiconductor Materials, run by Anna Fontcuberta i Morral, together with colleagues from MIT and the IOFFE Institute, have come up with a way of growing nanowire networks in a highly controlled and fully reproducible manner.