Rather than printing then on a silicon wafer, researchers propose to grow them while freely floating in a gas, and a self assembly method on surfaces. The project used gold nanoparticles inserted in a tube that acts as an oven to "bake" nanowires.
The method was developed at Lund University in Sweden and claims that the growth of the structures can be controlled using temperature, time and the size of the gold nanoparticles. "The basic idea was to let nanoparticles of gold serve as a substrate from which the semiconductors grow," said Lars Samuelson, who led the research. "This means that the accepted concepts really were turned upside down."
Samuelson said that his team has built a "prototype machine with a specially built oven", which demonstrates that the baking process "is not only extremely quick, [but] also continuous." At this, time the research project is following up to develop a method to capture the nanowires and "make them self-assemble in an ordered manner on a specific surface," such as glass or steel.
Samuelson believes that growing nanowires could be mature enough for semiconductor mass market production within two to four years.