Scientists are trying to create a new type to make coatings that could be used to make super-small electrical capacitors.
They are developing a nanoscale coating that has a higher electrical conductivity than graphene, the material that has become the basis of many modern electronics.
And the researchers say their approach is scalable and inexpensive.
“What we are proposing is the most sophisticated nano-coating technique ever developed in the field,” says Peter Smith, a physicist at the University of Exeter in the UK.
“We’re making a material that can be fabricated in the lab and then applied to the surfaces of electronic devices.”
This approach is also cheaper than conventional coatings, and it can be applied to virtually any surface.
“The material we’re developing, called C-type C-Coated Nanocrystal Nanowires, is the perfect solution for making ultra-thin, super-conductive, highly conductive coatings,” says Jorg Neuger, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Materials and Interfaces in Heidelberg, Germany, who is the lead author of a paper describing the work in Science.
“For the same amount of material, it is the ideal material for the production of super-capacitors.”
Nano-coated nanowires have been used in the past for high-performance electronic components.
They work by bonding to surfaces of a material with an electrically conducting material, like a metal.
But graphene is too small to be applied directly to materials of the same size.
In their new approach, the researchers are making C-Type C-Covered Nanowire by bonding a thin layer of graphene to a layer of copper sulfide.
The copper layer insulates the copper nanowire, while the copper sulfides make it easier to form a bond.
This allows the graphene to conduct electrical current and maintain its properties.
The scientists say the new approach can be scaled up to make nano-capacity coatings for other types of materials.
“In terms of the materials, we have already used graphene in a variety of ways.
But the new nanowiring is unique in that it can function on any surface, including ceramics, plastics, glass, and even wood,” says Neugers.
“This is an important advance in nanotechnology and it shows that graphene can be used for applications that are beyond electronics.”
The researchers say that C-covered nanowirts can be deposited on the surfaces made from a variety on- or off-pitch surfaces.
They can be formed in a number of ways, including a single layer or two, and can be coated with an adhesive to give the coating an anti-corrosion effect.
“There are already a number [of] applications in the automotive industry for nanowired coatings to reduce friction, reduce corrosion resistance, and to provide corrosion protection,” says Smith.
“Our approach has the potential to make the next generation of nanowIRs available to manufacturers in the near future.”
The study was supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2012-2017).