World's Thinnest Electrical Wire is Only Three Atoms Wide

17 Nov.,2022


thin stainless steel wire

Nicholas Melosh of Stanford University said, “Their minuscule size is important because a material that exists in just one or two dimensions – as atomic-scale dots, wires or sheets – can have very different, extraordinary properties compared to the same material made in bulk."

Diamondoids attach to sulfur and copper atoms, thus creating the wire. The cage-like structures come from carbon and hydrogen bonds. They naturally occur in petroleum fluid.

The electrical wire is assembled on a nano-scale level similar to molecular LEGO. The molecules link up in a unique way which could result in fabrics which generate electricity through movement.

"Much like LEGO blocks, they only fit together in certain ways that are determined by their size and shape," said researcher Fei Hua Li.

Hao Yan, a researcher from Stanford University said, "What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves".

According to Yan, "The process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It's almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go."

The animation below illustrates the formation of the diamondoid string.

[Image Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory]

The diamondoids attach to one another by strong forces called van der Waals forces. These forces ensure that each diamondoid sticks to the next, thus forming a long chain.