Researchers at North­eastern cre­ated a net­work of nanowires that can be scaled up more effi­ciently and cost-​​effectively to create dis­plays such as the NASDAQ sign in New York City’s Times Square.

Using Gal­lium nitride (GaN), a highly effec­tive semi­con­ductor mate­rial, the team cre­ated, for the first time, a hor­i­zon­tally aligned net­work of GaN nanowires, which are inte­gral com­po­nents in the devel­op­ment of elec­trical cir­cuits in the nanoscale. GaN is cur­rently used to create light-​​emitting diodes (LED) and blue and ultra-​​violet emit­ting lasers.

Making devices that emit blue light and ultra-​​violet light is cur­rently very expen­sive,” said Latika Menon, assis­tant pro­fessor of physics and co-​​author of the study. “The hor­i­zontal struc­ture of the GaN nanowire net­work will result in a more cost-​​effective way to advance this technology.”

Elec­trodes allow for the flow of elec­tricity between GaN nanowires and elec­trical wires, and the hor­i­zontal struc­ture of the GaN nanowire net­works are more easily attached to elec­trodes than ver­tical net­works. In addi­tion, the GaN nanowires have a cubic struc­ture, with optical and trans­port prop­er­ties that are more advanced than other nanowire struc­tures, resulting in a more effec­tive elec­trical circuit.

In terms of man­u­fac­turing, these hor­i­zontal net­work pat­terns can also be scaled up to large wafer sizes that are more com­pat­ible with the tech­nology used to inte­grate them into new nano­elec­tronic devices. These devices con­nect nan­otech­nology and elec­tronic devices to develop smaller and less costly man­u­fac­turing processes and products.

The research, pub­lished in a recent issue of the “Journal of Mate­rials Chem­istry,” was funded by the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion (NSF) and the NSF Nanoscale Sci­ence and Engi­neering Center for High-​​rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing at North­eastern. Other North­eastern researchers par­tic­i­pating in this project include physi­cist Zhen Wu, as well as Myung Gwan Hahm and Yung Joon Jung from the depart­ment of mechan­ical and elec­trical engineering.