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Gold-tipped 'nano-dumbells'

A picture of the nanocrystals. The dark dots are the gold tips

A breakthrough in research recently conducted at the Hebrew University has resulted in the development of nanocrystals in the shape of gold-tipped tiny weightlifting bars. These nano structures, about a hundred-thousandth of the diameter of a human hair, brings us one step closer to developing nano scale electronic circuitry and eventually nano scale computers.

In an important step towards creating an even smaller electronic circuitry a recently published article in Science magazine explained how gold-tipped nanocrystals can be used as highly-efficient building blocks for devices in the emerging nanotechnology revolution. Nano technology is the creation and use of the very smallest of Structures. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Being able to create and manipulate instruments on such a tiny scale is of the utmost importance for the continued success of the computer industry.

The best chip manufacturing techniques currently available to companies like Intel and AMD are on the scale of 90 nanometers (work on 65 nano meters is currently ongoing), but in order to reach a scale of only a few nanometers a difficult set of problems must be solved first. Among these are techniques of creating and handling nano scale conducting "wires". Another problem is connecting these nano scale devices together to create ultra small transistors capable of performing complex calculations in a split of second.

Professor Uri Banin

Professor Uri Banin from the Department of Physical Chemistry and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology of the Hebrew University recently published the findings of his ongoing research which aims at solving exactly these problems. Professor Banin created gold-tipped nanocrystals which can be used as highly efficient building blocks in future transistors. Professor Banin's idea was to selectively create gold tips for the nanocrystals in a simple chemical process resulting in a nano scale rods that resembles tiny weightlifting bars. These gold tips help to create an efficient conducting material that can then be used to create nano scale transistors.

Although still a few years from commercial application, the relative simplicity of the chemical process developed by Banin and his colleagues is bringing us closer to the dream of ultra fast nano scale computing.

Iddo Genuth

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