Progress in semiconductor physics and electronics for the last 30-40 years has been strongly influenced by the development of advanced techniques for epitaxial growth of ultrathin layers and the related formation of atomically sharp heterostructure interfaces between semiconductors of different compositions.
During the last 10 years, important progress has been made in the growth of ideal 1D structures, such as carbon nanotubes and semiconductor nanowires.
These 1D systems promise to be an exciting field for basic and applied research. At sufficiently small sizes solids exhibit significantly different mechanical, optical, electrical and magnetic properties, when compared to bulk material of macroscopic size.
Their low dimensionality means that they exhibit quantum confinement effects.
For example, narrowing the wire’s diameter increases its band gap, compared to the bulk material.
Controlled growth of non-carbon based 1D structures at well-defined locations has been demonstrated only in few examples.
Therefore, an understanding of the growth kinetics, the physical and chemical processes on the nanoscale, and their dependence on the growth parameters and template properties is necessary.
Researchers are making impressive progress in growing nanowires with precisely controlled properties with all sorts of different technologies including the realization of atomically abrupt heterostructure interfaces inside a nanowire.
This better control could give nanowires an edge over carbon nanotubes in some of the same early applications ranging across sensors, semiconductor heat management, batteries, flexible circuits, display backplanes, medical diagnostics, and nonvolatile memory.